November 28, 2001 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS Vol. XLIV No. 39


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

I would like to address the point of order raised by the hon. the Government House Leader on November 21 regarding Oral Questions. I have already ruled that a question must concern the current portfolio of a minister, that the government may determine which minister will answer a question, and that questions and answers should be brief.

Today I would like to begin by reminding all hon. members of the purpose of the Oral Question Period, which is - "that part of the parliamentary day where the government is held accountable for its administrative policies and the conduct of its Ministers, both individually and collectively." I refer hon. members to Marleau and Montpetit, page 416.

The guidelines which govern the form and content of Oral Questions are based on convention, usage and tradition. For example, in the House of Commons with 301 MPs, there are strict, short, time limits on questions and answers. Not all but some of our small legislatures have adopted this practice. Nevertheless, since the purpose of the proceeding is to permit the maximum number of members to illicit information from the ministry, members should be succinct in their questioning, as should ministers in their responses. If a question is too broad, the answer will similarly be broad. If a minister is too robust in giving his or her answer, it will provoke a drawn out supplementary.

Members should remember, as well, that supplementaries should flow from the answer and should not be preceded by a preamble. The original question is really the preamble. Subsequent questions should be other than those already asked.

In the House of Commons, several speakers have made useful rulings on the subject of Oral Questions.

In 1986, Speaker Bosely, drawing on a rule of Speaker Jerome, laid out the following principles which would apply equally to our Oral Question Period:

`Time is scarce and should, therefore, be used as profitably as possible by as many as possible.'

`The primary purpose of the Oral Question Period is the seeking of information from the government and calling government to account for its actions.'

`Members should be given the greatest possible freedom in putting of questions that is consistent with the other principles that I have just outlined, or our practices should seek, in the words of Mr. Speaker Jerome, "To reduce to an absolute minimum the negative disqualifications that may limit or restrict a member's right to ask a question."

Our own Standing Order 26(1) states that questions must be of urgent public importance and that if a question requires a lengthy answer, a minister may require it to be placed on the Order Paper. As well, questions should not contain argument or opinion, nor should a minister, in answering a question, engage in debate.

Of course, hon. members know that a minister, in his or her discretion, may decline to answer a question, Standing Order 26(5).

I, therefore, ask all hon. members to bear in mind these comments and make their questions and answers as brief and as crisp as possible, avoiding debate both in posing and in answering. In that way, the proceeding, the Oral Question Period, will better serve the purpose for which it is intended.

As well, on Monday, November 26, the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development raised a point of privilege concerning some comments made by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition in the public media and in the House. It is the hon. the minister's opinion that these statements are misquotations of comments of the Auditor General in one of her annual reports.

In respect of comments made in the media, it has been ruled on a number of occasions that statements made outside the House cannot be the basis of a question of privilege, and I refer hon. members to Beauchesne's, 6th Edition, 31(3).

As for the comments made in the House, to allege that a member has misled the House is a matter of order rather than of privilege and is not unparliamentary. I refer hon. members to Maingot, Parliamentary Privilege in Canada, Second Edition, page 241. The minister noted that he was not suggesting a deliberate misquotation, and this is important as it would be unparliamentary to suggest that a member has deliberately misled the House.

The Chair, therefore, finds that what has occurred is really a difference of opinion between two hon. members, and a prima facie case of breach of privilege has not been established.

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port de Grave.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BUTLER: Mr. Speaker, the Bay Roberts Heritage Society recently received the Merit Award from the Museum Association of Newfoundland and Labrador in recognition of excellence in preserving heritage in this Province.

The Merit Award is the highest recognition provided by the Museum Association of Newfoundland and Labrador and is only given if very strict requirements are met.

The society was honoured for its work in producing "The Road to Yesterday Museum" in the restored former Western Union Cable Building on Water Street in Bay Roberts.

Preserving and interpreting our past is a very important task which enhances communities and our whole Province. This is certainly the case with the work of the Bay Roberts Heritage Society. I would invite members of this House and the general public to visit the site. It is still open at this time of year, from 1:30 p.m to 4:30 p.m, Wednesday to Sunday.

Mr. Speaker, I ask members to join with me in congratulating the Bay Roberts Heritage Society on receiving this award.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The people of our Province are proud to have had the opportunity to help out in a very direct way in the hours and days following the tragic terrorist attacks in the United States on September11.

In communities across Newfoundland and Labrador, our citizens opened up their hearts, their homes and their wallets, to assist those who were stranded by the closure of North America's airspace. One of those communities that opened up its heart was the Holy Heart of Mary High School community in St. John's, which hosted some 550 stranded passengers, some for as long as four days.

I cannot begin to say how proud I am of the parents, the teachers, the school support staff and the many members of the community who volunteered their time, their energy and their goodwill to make the stranded passengers feel welcome and cared for during those difficult days. I am especially proud, Mr. Speaker, of the efforts of the 250 students who pitched in to help our accidental visitors feel at home. It became crystal clear during those days that the long tradition of selfless charity that has been part of the Newfoundland and Labrador psyche for generations is very much alive and well among our young people. Their acts of kindness, Mr. Speaker, have left a lasting impression on all those who stayed here, and all their families and neighbors in their home cities and countries who have learned through them about the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I truly congratulate Holy Heart, its students, their principal, Mr. Robert Pittman, the faculty, staff, parents, the community at large, and the members of the Avalon East School Board, for a job well done.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Carbonear-Harbour Grace.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SWEENEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, recently this Province held its first Rural EXPO where five Community Economic Development Awards were presented. The winners were: Wilf Sutton and Tom Sutton, co-nominees, of Trepassey, for the Outstanding Individual Achievement Award; Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs (NLOWE) for the Excellence in Fostering Entrepreneurship Award; the Nordic Economic Development Corporation has won the Excellence in Partnership Award; Michelle Snow of Clarke's Beach has won the Excellence in Youth Leadership Award; the Random North Development Association has captured the Innovation in Education Award.

The five winners were selected from more that eighty nominations received for the five awards which were reviewed by an eight-member awards committee.

Mr. Speaker, I ask members of the House to join with me in congratulating these award winners.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's South.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like for all members of the House to join with me today in congratulating Ms Bertha Hewitt of Saint Luke's Homes, who is celebrating her 100th birthday today. Ms Hewitt is formerly of Fogo Island. She remains active, is in good health, and enjoys many church and social activities and events at Saint Luke's Homes. Her kind and hospitable nature are demonstrated by her life-long volunteer contributions and the devotion of family and friends. Her guiding philosophy is: Life is what you make of it.

Her family and many friends, the staff of Saint Luke's Homes, and hopefully all Members of the House of Assembly today, will join with me in wishing Ms Bertha Hewitt a very happy 100th birthday.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bay of Islands.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, recently in Winnipeg at the National Annual General Meeting of the Victorian Order of Nurses, a Newfoundlander received a very important award from that organization.

Ms Lorraine Humber has been awarded the VON Canada Award of Distinction. This national award is given to only one individual each year for outstanding service to the VON and in recognition of contribution to furthering the goals of VON Canada.

Lorraine has been with the VON for over twenty years and has been with the Lark Harbour clinic in the Bay of Islands since it opened in 1986. The VON Clinic serves Lark Harbour and the York Harbour area, providing medical assistance to all residents in the area.

Lorraine is well known in the Outer Bay of Islands for her dedication and commitment to the area. She is on call twenty-four hours a day, and most of her time is spent volunteering. She serves on the town council and is a volunteer for her church and various local charities.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all Members of the House of Assembly to join me in congratulating Ms Lorraine Humber on receiving this award for the work that she has done for the Outer Bay of Islands area.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This past weekend in Labrador West, I had the privilege of attending the ninth annual Toys for Joys fund-raising event, an event which raises money to buy Christmas gifts for children in Labrador West who otherwise may not have any.

This event is sponsored by the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 47, and a large number of local musicians who volunteer their talents for the night. The people who attend this event make a contribution at the door of any amount they choose. The money then is turned over to the Knights of Columbus who do a great job in identifying the children in our communities who are in need.

Mr. Speaker, people were continuously coming and going Saturday night with more than 700 people visiting the legion, some to stay for awhile and listen to the entertainment and others just to drop by with a donation.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say the generosity of the people of Labrador West was demonstrated once again; $10,800 was raised, enough to make sure there will not be one child in Labrador West this Christmas morning without a reason to be excited.

I would like to thank the members of the Legion, Branch 47, the Knights of Columbus, and all others who took part to make this night a tremendous success.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to inform hon. members that I, along with the hon. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Natural Resources Canada, have received the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board's Decision Report on the White Rose Development Plan Application filed by Husky Oil in January of this year.

The C-NOPB's decision is based upon the information contained in the Development Application, the report of the Public Review Commissioner and consultations with both governments. The Decision Report deals with the White Rose Canada-Newfoundland Benefits Plan, the Development Plan, and includes responses to the Commissioner's recommendations, as well as other matters for which C-NOPB approval is required.

Government will review the document and within the next thirty days determine, on behalf of the people of the Province, whether to accept or reject the Development Application. I will inform the people of the Province of government's decision on or before December 27 and, subject to approval, will make the C-NOPB's Decision Report public at that time.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is indeed a very important issue, perhaps one of the most important public policy issues facing the people of the Province today. Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the members on this side of the House, and indeed all residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, we look forward to thirty days' time when the C-NOPB's Decision Report and government's decision will be handed down.

Mr. Speaker, we look forward as well to what the government has to say with respect to the Public Review Commissioner's recommendations, and specifically Recommendation 4.1 which states, "The Commissioner recommends that the Board not approve the Canada-Newfoundland Benefits Plan, Volume I of the White Rose Development Application..."; and recommendation 4.2, "The Commissioner recommends that the Board invite the Proponent to rewrite its Benefits Plan to correct the deficiencies identified...".

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the hon. member opposite.

In conclusion, it will be interesting to note what government's decision is and what the C-NOPB report has to say with respect to those recommendations as outlined by the Public Review Commissioner. In thirty days' time, I believe the minister indicated that December 27 will be the date for the announcement, I would submit this will be a very important and critical day for all the people of this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is going to be a real test of the backbone and power of the C-NOPB as to whether or not they are prepared to leave, as the Public Review Commissioner has said, the Benefits Plan for White Rose in so general and qualified a way as to effectively leave the complete discretion on benefit matters with the proponent and the contractors. This is going to be important, to see whether the C-NOPB is prepared to stand up for benefits for Newfoundland and Labrador, and whether this government is prepared to do the same thing.

Oral Questions

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier has claimed to have an open, accessible and transparent government, yet the new Freedom of Information Act, the proposed Bill 49, in fact makes it more difficult for the public to secure information due to procedural roadblocks.

Could the Premier explain to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador why the former act had a thirty-day response period, yet the new act, the proposed bill, requires reasonable efforts only in a thirty-day period, provides for an extension of a further thirty-day period under certain circumstances and, in fact, provides for circumstances where it can be in excess of ninety days? Could the Premier please explain why the differences?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am glad the Leader of the Opposition is raising these very important questions with respect to this very important piece of legislation. The Minister of Justice will answer all the details about all of the particular clauses in this bill in the debate in questions in Question Period, if that is what the Opposition wants to do as we go through the debate on this very important piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to note that the Leader of the Opposition is desperately trying to suggest that this government has not been the most open that this Province has ever seen, because the record shows it differently. We have already established, in nine months, since February 13 when this Administration was sworn in, that no government in history has ever been as open and accountable to the people of the Province as this particular government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: We will continue to build on that. That whole concept is being adopted and accepted in Newfoundland and Labrador today, and the people will be more convinced than ever, when they have seen the full debate of this bill and its full contents, all of it, not just one piece that the Leader of the Opposition might like to take out and misrepresent like he did last week, Mr. Speaker. Last week, the record clearly shows that he misrepresented the views and concerns of the Auditor General, and he can try to misrepresent the openness of this government if he wants, but it is going to fail the test because the people already know that we are established as the most open and accountable government that this Province has ever seen.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: I am reluctant to stand here in Question Period on a point of order, but the Premier has been in this House as a member since 1989. He knows that he cannot stand up and accuse another member in this House of purposely misrepresenting a fact. He knows that, Mr. Speaker. I ask him to stand and apologize. He knows he cannot do that!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair just made a ruling which says that the minister noted that he was not suggesting a deliberate misquotation. To misrepresent is not a point of order. To say that someone mislead the House, or to misrepresent a particular view, is not a point of order unless it is said that the member deliberately did that.

There is no point of order.

A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier has chosen not to deal with my question as to the reason for the extended time periods in the new legislation. I will ask the hon. the Premier why the Citizens' Representative, who has been appointed to intervene in this new legislation, has no authority whatsoever to implement his recommendations?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I have indicated, there is going to be a full and complete debate of every single clause in this bill in this Legislature and, because it is critically important, I expect that every single member of the Opposition would like to speak to this bill. We will answer every single question.

The Opposition knows, the people of the Province know, that the fundamental contents of this bill are here because they reflect fifty of the fifty-two recommendations made by a committee that went all over the Province and around the country to examine what the current state of affairs and the currently modern accepted standards are for freedom of information.

The one that he just raised is one that is adopted exactly as the committee recommended. It is not that the government altered the recommendation. This was a public process, Mr. Speaker, that was done in the Province. The committee heard from everybody: media representatives, politicians, others that had an interest in freedom of information. The committee heard from them and the committee recommended that what is in the act with respect to the question just asked by the Leader of the Opposition is the best possible resolution today. I would expect the question if, in fact, the committee had recommended something else and we were bringing in something different in the legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the Premier now to conclude his answer.

PREMIER GRIMES: We are bringing in with respect to that question and that issue exactly what the committee has recommended, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, this government continues to deflect responsibilities to school boards, to health boards, and now to committees that draft legislation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: In this House we have a right to ask questions and we have a right to get answers from this government. Could the Premier explain why his Liberal counterparts in B.C. have put some teeth in this legislation and have given the Citizens' Representative authority to implement his orders?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That is exactly the kind of work that the committee did through all of last spring and summer. It was announced here, last year in December, that there would be a full review of freedom of information legislation in the country. Mr. Speaker, the committee, not the government - and he might now suggest that we should not have committees. I am sure that last week and maybe later today, if we hear the inconsistent approach of last week, Mr. Speaker, later today I am sure we will hear from the Opposition that there should be a committee set up to look at something or other. All of a sudden we had a committee look at it and now he says, you are deflecting responsibility to the committees.

Mr. Speaker, you cannot have it both ways. We believe in exploring the issue completely and totally, and the record has already shown in Newfoundland and Labrador that this is the most open government. That cannot be denied, Mr. Speaker. Every single report -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I will briefly conclude with maybe this example of a point of what we are witnessing here today. The last time we were in Legislature, the Opposition was suggesting that in the Churchill Falls contracts, with guaranteed winter availability and with the recall, there was something hidden in there that was bad for Newfoundland and Labrador because we had not disclosed the contracts.

Mr. Speaker, this government gave the contracts and guess what? It was proven to be very good for Newfoundland and Labrador and we have not heard a question about it since.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the Premier now to conclude his answer.

PREMIER GRIMES: It is typical of the approach of the Opposition, Mr. Speaker, to try to suggest there is something wrong when there is no substance at all to the allegation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier continues to refuse to answer questions. It is ironic that the very committee that he speaks of, a request for information was asked on the deliberations of that committee and the government refused to provide that information.

Mr. Speaker, would the Premier agree that the extended time periods, prohibited fees, and the lack of authority by the Citizens' Representative, in fact constitute a denial of information, rather than access to information?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, as we debate this particular bill in full debate, the Leader of the Opposition can spend a full hour, if he chooses, discussing his concerns about the bill at second reading, and every single member can have twenty minutes, Mr. Speaker, to talk about this particular important piece of legislation. At the end of the debate - and again, I have invited them, if they have particular concerns about one or two of the clauses that are in the bill, by all means move some amendments at the committee stage. We will consider them as we always do, as the government, because we are committed, and the public record already shows that, Mr. Speaker, by the release of reports on water quality, the release of reports on home support and the release of the report on Freedom of Information.

The very day, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Justice received the report of the committee, rather than us keeping it for two or three months, we gave it to the people of the Province. Mr. Speaker, those recommendations, except for two, which have been altered slightly, are in this legislation. We are very proud of it and we will gladly debate it fully during this session.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Deputy Premier.

Last week I raised the issue of the possible sale price Friede Goldman are asking for Marystown shipyard. We all know -

MR. ANDERSEN: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I say to the Member for Torngat Mountains, if you would like me to ask a question to you I will finish with him first and then I will deal with you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, we all know that Friede Goldman -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, we all know that Friede Goldman are under Chapter 11 proceedings of the Bankruptcy Act in the United States. We also know that under those proceedings they have only a certain amount of time. There is a sunset clause on when they will not be protected anymore. My understanding is that will happen within the next couple or three weeks.

The question I would like to ask the Deputy Premier is this: With respect to Friede Goldman, can you confirm that the asking price of Friede Goldman Newfoundland and Labrador, of $15 million, is in fact a hurdle that government is trying to get over in terms of selling the yard to another potential buyer as it positions itself to take advantage of fabrication work on the White Rose project?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: I will try to answer the question as briefly as I can because the hon. gentleman might threatened somebody else here.

Let me just say to him that there are negotiations ongoing for the purchase of the assets of Friede Goldman by a particular company. There are some hurdles to overcome, obviously. Otherwise, we would have had signed a deal by now.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to ask the Deputy Premier this question. In view of the fact that Chapter 11 proceedings and the sunset clause where Friede Goldman will not be under a protection, so to speak, government and the Deputy Premier have made a commitment that the assets will not leave Marystown. I ask the Deputy Premier: Does that mean that, in the evident that a liquidator is appointed, and in the event that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador may become an unsecured creditor, does that mean that you, as a government, are prepared to move in and seize that asset because Friede Goldman International has not lived up to its obligations and promises they made to the people of the Province and in particular to the people of the Burin Peninsula?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: I say to the hon. gentleman, that is a very sensible question. It is a good question, and the answer has been given to it many times. We, as a government, will not allow the assets to leave Marystown. We have said they belong to the people. They will stay in Marystown.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. TULK: Don't take any advice from him. You are better at it than he is.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: I say to the hon. gentleman, that the assets - and I pledge to the people of Marystown today and to him - of Friede Goldman will be used for the people of Marystown and they will stay there, and I hope the hon. gentleman will support it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Opposition House Leader

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: A final supplementary.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

I want to be clear, Mr. Speaker. Is the Deputy Premier saying that if a liquidator is appointed, Friede Goldman then has to liquidate its assets which include Marystown? They have already liquidated some in France. Is he saying that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will do what this Opposition has suggested, and that is to move in and seize the assets of Marystown to ensure that the economy in the region and that shipyard goes ahead and works? Is that what the Deputy Premier is saying?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, let me just say to the hon. gentleman, that I understand that is what the Opposition is saying today. Today! Last week, I understand, or a short time ago, the Leader of the Opposition was down in Marystown talking about the good old days when the Tories were in power. Yes, the good old days, Mr. Speaker, when we spent $181 million of taxpayers' money of government trying to run a shipyard. I say to the hon. gentleman, governments are not very good at running anything, let alone a shipyard, let alone a business, and that includes his government that sunk $181 million in the Marystown Shipyard.

We understand what his position is today. Ours has been consistent ever since last May, when I rose in this House the first time the hon. gentleman asked the question, and said clearly: We will leave no stone unturned in Marystown, and we will ensure that the assets that are in Marystown remain in Marystown for the people of Marystown.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, last week The Telegram reported, through the Freedom of Information Act, that the town of Victoria in the District of Carbonear-Harbour Grace received a $97,000 cheque, supposedly, to buy a new loader. Now, the mayor has categorically stated, and I quote: The money wasn't for anything in particular. He was told, and I quote again: All of that money they gave us was to spend on whatever we wish. A $97,000 cheque and he was told he could that.

My question is to the Member for Carbonear-Harbour Grace. I would like to ask the member: At any time or on any occasion did you tell either a councillor or the mayor that they could, indeed, spend that money on anything that they wished?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear1

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In response to that: Last week, I produced proof to the media that a letter was sent to the council in Victoria, specifically saying the amounts that were to be spent for the loader and the amounts that were to be spent for the pager. It was in The Telegram. I would like to say, too, Mr. Speaker, in response to the Leader of the Opposition, who criticized me personally, in a sense, saying, you had no plan, you had no way to retrieve it, you just sent it out, this is just another example of how you deal with people - I want to say to him, if didn't know: As the minister responsible for Municipal and Provincial Affairs, we do have audits and, at the end of the day, all the councils are audited and all the monies accounted for. If not, we will take appropriate action. So, the particular town of Victoria had their orders, they knew exactly what to do, and time will show that is exactly what they are doing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I know all about the letter that the minister wrote, Mr. Speaker. I do not understand it, but the mayor categorically, on three different occasions, said that he was told - and I believe the mayor and the councillors - that he was told he could spend it any way he wished.

I would like to ask the minister: Is it normal practice of the department to send out a $97,000 cheque without knowing what the cost of the item was? Is that normal, minister?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we knew, in consultation with the town of Victoria, that the loader would cost approximately $140,000 to $150,000. What we did was cost share, exactly what we have done with your town on a number of things.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: In many instances, Mr. Speaker, this minister, with different people on the opposite side, has done things for you just as have been done for the town of Victoria. In some instances it has not only been cost shared, it has been 100 per cent. How I treat people on this side is how I treat people on that side; and the day I do not is the day I do not want to be the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is funny the minister said he cost shared, but he does not know what his share was.That does not make a lot of sense.

It was in November that the mayor made this statement, that he was told he could spend it any way he wished. Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell us today exactly where that cheque is, how much is spent, and what it is spent on? Was it indeed spent for the loader, I will ask the minister?

AN HON. MEMBER: Good question.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: It is my understanding, Mr. Speaker, that the particular cheque for the amount for the loader is still in trust and, when the loader is purchased, that particular amount will go towards that particular machine, and the council will borrow the rest to pay for the machine in question.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Mines and Energy, concerning Wabush Mines.

Last week, Mr. Speaker, the minister said he had spoken with the company and department officials, who have assured him that there is no high-grade happening at Wabush Mines. I note there is no mention of consulting with the workers. He also referred to an interview he did six months ago about this issue.

I ask the minister: How current and in-depth was the information he is basing his decision on, that there is no high-grading taking place at Wabush Mines?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In answer to the question, how current is my information, my information, Mr. Speaker, is as current as today, completely up-to-date, not a day's lag involved in it. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I would add to what I reported to the hon. member in the House the other day in terms of, why have I not spoken with the people who work in the mines, on four separate occasions, Mr. Speaker, and counting, we have offered a meeting to the representatives of the union in Labrador. We are still waiting for a positive response so we can sit down with the union and discuss any and all concerns that they would wish to bring forward, with respect to the issue of high-grading, or perception of high-grading, or any other issue that they have, with respect to the operation of Wabush Mines where they work and in which they have an interest, and in which all the people of the Province have an interest in terms of the economic viability of that operation and of that region. We stand ready and we stand waiting to meet with the union representatives. We have had four meetings that have not materialized. We will make a fifth attempt, we will make a sixth attempt if we have to, to try and have the meeting. Really, the onus is on the union to come in-

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! I ask the hon. minister now to conclude his answer.

MR. MATTHEWS: -as we have offered to allow them to do, to have a full and frank discussion about anything they want to talk about.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the minister: The problem is in Labrador. You should be the one going to Labrador instead of the people of Labrador coming out here to see you, number one.

Number two, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say to the minister, that it is not a meeting that the people in Wabush need, it is action.

Will the minister commit to conducting a full-scale investigation, with employee and the union participation, into the mining activities and the plans, with a total analysis of the tailings that are going to waste, occurring at Wabush Mines?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Maybe the hon. member read too much into my answer. I did not say, I did not suggest, I did not, in any way, imply that we were prepared to meet with the union leadership only in St. John's. I am prepared to go to Labrador City at a moment's notice providing I can get out of the House. I will have the meeting with the union anywhere they want to have the meeting. The issue is getting them to come in the door, sit at the table, and have the discussion that they allege they want to have.

So, yes, I will go to Labrador West, but I will meet with them in St. John's. I will meet with them halfway in between. I will meet with them anywhere they want to have a meeting. The issue is not where to have the meeting, the issue is getting them to the table to have a meeting so that we can talk about what they allege is an issue, but, in fact, about which they have been very reluctant to come in and have a substantive discussion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's South.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, under section 66 of the Water Resources Act, police officers are considered investigators of the Department of Environment. We believe that is a good thing. However, they are given extraordinary rights under this act to search without a warrant. They are given the right to search plans, to search books, to search records, to search substances, to search whatever they so choose without a warrant. They can do all of this, Mr. Speaker, without a warrant from the courts and that is sweeping power.

I ask the minister: Why are police, under this act, given the power to search without a warrant, powers that they do not have under normal investigation?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Environment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: The short answer to that, Mr. Speaker, is, no, they do not, not under the Environmental Protection Act. The act provides that they will have to obtain a warrant.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's South.

MR. T. OSBORNE: That is not correct, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, that is not correct. They have to obtain a warrant after they have gone in for a search without a warrant. There is a difference. They have the right to search without a warrant.

Mr. Speaker, will the minister agree that giving police the power to conduct a warrant-less search is an invasion of a person's level of privacy and protection, which is guaranteed under section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of Canada?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Environment.

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I thought he was talking about the Environmental Protection Act.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: No, I apologize.

I am not absolutely certain, but I would have to double check before I really answer the question on what the member is saying. I am not certain if what he is saying is accurate.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's South.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, the same applies under the Environmental Protection Act, but is the minister telling us he is not certain of his own legislation?

Mr. Speaker, when police conduct a warrant-less search they are able to make an arrest for anything they find even if it is unrelated to the act.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary. He ought not to be quoting from an act. I ask him to get to his question.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Doesn't the minister agree that this is a contravention of the level of privacy and protection that is guaranteed under the Charter of Freedoms and Rights of Canada, to allow a police officer to go in and, without even relating to the environment act, they can make an arrest for anything they find?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Environment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

As I said, I am not absolutely certain of what the hon. member has said, under what circumstances it is being done, but if it is true we will certainly amend the act. It has not yet had second reading here in the Legislature. There are varying opinions as to what the law may say. I am sure that the hon. member opposite is quite aware of that. They have a couple of lawyers sitting over there.

We will review what he has said, take it under advisement, and if it is necessary to make that change we will.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, my questions today are for the Minister of Labour.

Minister, the Workplace, Health Safety and Compensation Commission has just sent out a letter to businesses that are grouped into personal and home household services, which includes barber shops, increasing their workers' compensation by 397 per cent over a five-year period, going from 63 cents minister to $3.13. There has never been a claim by a barber shop, so why is their rate going up so much?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Labour.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS THISTLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am glad the Member for Conception Bay South asked that question. I believe it was in the media a couple of mornings ago. What I would like to say to the member opposite: Barber shops are grouped in a category with beauty parlors, laundromats and dry cleaners. That is the same grouping that Stats Canada would use, or any other jurisdiction in Canada that rates workers' compensation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS THISTLE: I have to get to that.

What I am telling you is: We all know that the Workers' Compensation Commission just went through a financial crunch, Mr. Speaker, and I think if the Workers' Compensation, which is an insurance program for every worker in this Province - I would like to educate the member opposite, Mr. Speaker, who is over there glaring. It would be better that he would listen. Worker's compensation is for all workers in this Province and, Mr. Speaker, the contributions are paid by the employers themselves. I would like to tell the member opposite that the proposed assessment rate is going up over the next five years, but also -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister now to conclude her answer.

MS THISTLE: - all employers out there who are being assessed with an increase have an opportunity to also decrease those rates over the next five years. If he would like to take this up another day, because I know-

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister now to finish her answer.

MS THISTLE: - we do not have enough time, I would be glad to expand on that.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Question period has ended.

MR. LUSH: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader, on a point of order.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, during Question Period today the hon. Member for Baie Verte directed a question to the hon. the Member for Carbonear-Harbour Grace. My understanding of our Standing Orders is that a question cannot be addressed to a private member. I think we have allowed a question to be directed to a parliamentary assistant. The hon. member is a parliamentary assistant but he is the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development, the hon. the Deputy Premier.

A question, Mr. Speaker, asked to a private member or a parliamentary assistant ought to be related to that department and in no instance when the minister is here present. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the question was out of order in that it was directed to a private member, and I ask your hon. to rule on that important point.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: To the point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, to the point of order, the member is a parliamentary assistant. He has stood in this Legislature in the past and answered questions. That is to say now, if the Member for Baie Verte had a question for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and that minister was not here or the parliamentary assistant was not here, does that mean that the Premier or government cannot direct another parliamentary assistant to answer? I assume that when a member is in his district or anybody else's he is acting in a capacity, simultaneously, I suppose, as parliamentary assistant, as a minister would do.

Mr. Speaker, our contention is, the member in his capacity as a parliamentary assistant to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has answered questions on behalf of the government, in the past, in this Legislature. In fact, May 24, last year, he answered questions from me in this Legislature. Our point, Mr. Speaker, is simply this, that as a parliamentary assistant to government that you do represent government on a variety of matters and that you can stand and answer a question on any matter. Government has the right to direct who may answer a question, but he is a parliamentary assistant and not just a private member any more, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman is wrong. He is completely wrong. The truth of the matter is that parliamentary secretaries are assigned in this House to ministers.

Yes, the Member for Carbonear-Harbour Grace, who is also parliamentary secretary to myself, answered a question last spring, I say to him, about the Department of Industry, Trade and Rural Development, but he answered it when the minister was absent. That is his role. His role is to answer the question when the minister is absent.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs is obviously the minister to whom you direct questions about municipal affairs when he is in the House, and he was today in the House.

No, Mr. Speaker, it was applied by the Member for Baie Verte to draw attention to what he thought was a TV news story for him.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To that point of order, the same rules apply to parliamentary assistants that apply to ministers. Members cannot direct questions to a minister for a portfolio for which he is not responsible. Therefore, parliamentary assistants would be treated in the same manner. If a minister is in the House, a parliamentary assistant cannot be expected to respond to a question.

Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Pursuant to section 26(5)(a) of the Financial Administration Act, I am tabling one Order-in-Council relating to funding pre-commitments for the year 2002-2003.

Further pursuant to section 28(4) of the Financial Administration Act, I am tabling two Special Warrants, for tabling for the fiscal year 2001-2002.

Petitions

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's South.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a petition again today to present on behalf of the residents of Shea Heights, and indeed the entire Province, for the need for wheelchair accessible housing units.

We, the residents of Shea Heights, wish to petition the hon. House of Assembly to address the need for wheelchair accessible housing units in the Shea Height area. We are asking the government to consider the fact that people with disabilities, and their families, need to be able to utilize the support of family and friends within the community of Shea Heights. If persons are forced to live in units outside the community, it compromises the help and support families so vitally need.

We are asking that serious consideration be given to the construction of wheelchair accessible units in the Shea Heights area so that families with physical disabilities may avail of the essential support networks of their own community.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious petition not only for the Shea Heights area or the city, but the entire Province. It is from the residents of Shea Heights, and I support the residents of Shea Heights in this petition.

The community of Shea Heights is a very close-knit community, where you can go into the community and ask anybody if they know where another person lives and they can tell you the color of their house, the street they live on, and the name of their children. It is a very close community, Mr. Speaker. It is a very close neighborhood. We should not force people from a neighborhood as close as that to uproot and move to another neighborhood, away from their family, away from their friends, away from the support network that they rely on, simply because there are no wheelchair accessible units in that community.

Mr. Speaker, this is a serious situation, it is a serious issue, and I am asking a serious plea to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, the minister responsible for housing, to take very serious consideration to this issue and to put some wheelchair accessible housing units in the Shea Heights area so that the families who are in that area can stay together.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of a number of people in the District of Cape St. Francis, and I will read the prayer of the petition:

To the hon. House of the Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador in legislative session convened, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador;

WHEREAS the population on the Northeast Avalon in the Towns of Pouch Cove, Bauline, Flatrock, Torbay, Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove is growing rapidly; and

WHEREAS the traffic on Torbay Road has increased to significant and dangerous levels, approximately 12,000 vehicles per day, and is growing daily; and

WHEREAS the Torbay bypass route has been decided and land acquisition has taken place; and

WHEREAS the Torbay bypass was a significant part of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation roads agenda and will alleviate the concerns of residents on the Northeast Avalon regarding traffic flow; and

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to make the Torbay bypass a part of their new road construction plan, and put funding in place to start the construction of the Torbay bypass as soon as possible;

And as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I have signed this petition and I certainly do support the petition. This petition really speaks for itself. It affects thousands of people on the Northeast Avalon, in particular in the mornings where traffic flow is horrendous. We have school buses in all the communities coming from Pouch Cove, Flatrock, Bauline, Torbay, Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove, some coming into St. John's, some going to Holy Trinity in Torbay, and some going to the two schools in Pouch Cove. The traffic flow is horrendous, especially on certain intersections: the Bauline Line intersection with Torbay Road, the Indian Meal Line intersection with Torbay Road, the Middle Cove Road intersection, the Pine Line intersection, and various other road intersections where it can take as long as five to six or seven minutes to get out into the traffic.

The thing about this, Mr. Speaker - and the people in the area know and the town councils know - the route for this Torbay bypass was located and surveyed many, many years ago. The land acquisition has been done. Most of the property has been bought up. The problem with this, of course, is that this Administration has put it on the back burner. The former minister, the former Member for Port de Grave, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, put the Torbay bypass on the back burner some years ago. We have had discussions with all the ministers since - I have - the present minister, the previous two ministers, and they know themselves the traffic flow. As a matter of fact, one of the ministers lived in the district and he knows full well the concerns and the dangerous traffic flow on the Torbay Road now.

There was a misconception out there that the Torbay bypass was a part of the Roads for Rail Agreement and it was never so, but the people in the area deserve the Torbay bypass now. As a matter of fact -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave, just to conclude, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave?

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: (Inaudible) his presentation.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Government House Leader.

Mr. Speaker, just in conclusion, I want to say that I fully support this petition; and, by the way, I expect there are going to be many, many more forthcoming. These few that I have presented today were only from one community, basically, and there are more coming, so I expect I will be up very often on this issue, and hopefully the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation will give it some serious consideration.

Thank you.

Orders of the Day

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Order 25, the adjourned debate on Bill 39, An Act To Amend The Judgement Enforcement Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East, I believe, adjourned the debate.

The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise just for a few moments to make a few very brief comments on the Judgement Enforcement Act. In fact, when the House adjourned on Monday this was the piece of legislation that was being debated at that particular time. I noted at that time, Mr. Speaker, that it was interesting in response to the comments that were made by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, that at the same time there was the Annual Report of the Office of the High Sheriff, and that report spoke in a very important way, I thought, to what was taking place at the Office of the High Sheriff, and how the issue of judgements and the registry of judgements of electronic means was now being completed as a result of a project that was undertaken by the Office of the High Sheriff.

I agree with the minister's comments, Mr. Speaker, that what this Bill 39 does, An Act To Amend The Judgement Enforcement Act, is essentially the recognition of facilitating the registration of judgements by electronic means at the Office of the High Sheriff. From that point of view, obviously, we really have no difficulty with this legislation. It is legislation that we on this side of the House, Mr. Speaker, would by and large support, and really what it represents.

It represents, Mr. Speaker, the good work that is being done by the Office of the High Sheriff and their employees in allowing the registration of such judgements by electronic means; keeping in mind, in accordance with the amendment, that individuals may still use the traditional mode and traditional means for registration purposes.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, we have no difficulty with this bill and we will be supporting this through to passage here in the Legislature.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would just like to say a few words on this bill, An Act To Amend The Judgement Enforcement Act. We are not opposed to the bill in principle, but I would like to say that I know there has been a tremendous amount of work done on this particular aspect of judicial work in the last number of years. The Judgement Enforcement Act has been amended and we were doing an awful lot of things to upgrade and update the operations of the Sheriff's Office, much of the work having commenced during the time of the late Leslie Thoms and continued by his successors.

I will say, although this is important work, the effect of this particular bill needs to be said: it is to really make it a lot easier for people who have judgements to file them and get them enforced. This is primarily, of course, people who have judgements against people who did not pay them debts, the bill collectors, the people who are trying to go after those who have been unable to pay their debts or make their installment payments. It is making it a lot easier so they can quickly get their judgments enforced and seize assets.

While I have no objection to the legal process that allows that, there are other aspects of the legal system that really need attention; not necessarily the legal system but the system that is related to the operations of commerce that have not received near the amount of attention that this kind of activity has.

We have down in the basement of this building, Mr. Speaker, a Registry of Deeds and Securities. The situation there is such that people are having great difficulty in closing real estate transactions because the searchers are saying they cannot find out adequately whether or not the deeds that have been filed are up-to-date, whether there are liens on properties. They cannot certify appropriate security clearance and title clearance or lien clearance at the Registry of Deeds in this building because the system is backlogged and bottlenecked and all backed up.

While it is very good to see that the Sheriff's Office has gotten a fair bit of attention in terms of modernizing and up-to-date and electronic, now if somebody has a loan and you do not pay your loan and the bill collectors or the collection agency is after you, now they do not even have to go down to the Sheriff's Office to file something; they can file it electronically. That is all very nice, and I suppose they will get after their creditors faster and seize their assets, and that may be; we have to have an efficient justice system so that people who are entitled to enforce their judgements have a way of doing it.

Mr. Speaker, there is a very great problem that we have today in the Registry of Deeds where we have not caught up. There is a new computer system that has been installed, an electronic system; there is not much access to it outside of the building. In fact, there has been talk of having access. We do have a property security system, a personal property security system, that has been modernized, but the main system for people buying and selling and transacting houses and land in this Province is very much not up-to-date and has not been brought into effect with the modern times. The computer system is inadequate there is no access (inaudible) registry is not on line. We have our sister Province, Nova Scotia, where you can go in on a Web site, on an Internet address, and find out the registration particulars of a company in Nova Scotia in five minutes. In this Province we have not done that. We are lagging very much behind on the electronic development of services to the general public, that the general public has a lot more interest and stake in than making it possible to electronically enforce a judgement by a collection agency or by a judgement creditor to pursue on it, pursue a debt, and the other aspects of commerce, of land transactions, of the buying and selling of houses which the general public has a great deal of interest in. We are lagging very much far behind in terms of modernizing our procedures, having it efficient, electronically available, and having access by the general public to those systems.

In supporting this bill I wanted to take the opportunity to say that there are other things that are equally or more important than making it efficient for judgement creditors to collect debts, while recognizing, of course, that having an efficient justice system is an important part of the fair administration of justice. But we should not go way, way ahead in terms of convenience for one segment of society - that being people who are collecting debts or bills - at the same time leaving those who are trying to conduct the business of buying and selling houses back in the days where you had to go and spend an hour or more searching through days and days of deeds that have yet to be put on the system in order to be able to satisfy the transaction that the property is free from a lien, or free from another sale, and can actually be approved for closing.

Those are my remarks on that, Mr. Speaker. I realize it is not specifically in this minister's jurisdiction, but it is another part of modernizing and making more accessible the important services of government.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General. If the hon. the minister speaks now he will close the debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the supportive comments of the Member for St. John's East on this piece of legislation. It is indeed further advanced in terms of the technologies that we are introducing into the system. The comments of the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, albeit not related to this particular piece of legislation and not particularly relevant to the Judgement Enforcement Act -

MR. HARRIS: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, the minister says he appreciates the supportive comments of the Member for St. John's East and suggested that I did not support the legislation, that I talked about something else entirely. The minister should recall that I said I supported the legislation and I think we should go ahead and do it. I said that we should not rush ahead and fulfill one issue that might be important and ignore the fact that there are many more transactions, many more areas of business, on which this government has left the consumers and people down.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is really no point of order. The hon. member is, I guess, clarifying his statements.

The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the relevant comments of the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi as they relate to this piece of legislation, the Judgement Enforcement Act. This department is not responsible for the Registry of Deeds, as he alluded to with the bulk of his comments. I can advise him, however, that I am aware that the Minister of Government Services and Lands does deal with the Registry of Deeds, was contacted by several members of the Law Society - who are frequent users of the Registry of Deeds - concerning a matter of backlogs. According to the information I have, that has been dealt with by the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

There have been major advances in the personal property, security laws of this Province. This is just one more step in bringing our property system and our registration system in line with the modern age and the new technologies. I realize and appreciate that both members opposite are supportive of this particular piece of legislation and I am sure if there is any detail they need, we will get to that when we get to committee stage.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Judgment Enforcement Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House presently, by leave. (Bill 39)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, Order 26, second reading of Bill 33, An Act Respecting The Protection Of Endangered Species.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting The Protection Of Endangered Species. (Bill 33)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Recreation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: It is a real pleasure today, Mr. Speaker, to rise and give second reading to this bill.

There comes an opportunity, when you are serving in a portfolio, to bring in a piece of legislation that will have an impact on the future of the Province. This one here, I think, Mr. Speaker, we can all be justly proud of, in this administration, and we look forward to the support of members opposite for this piece of legislation. There is a time when we see that bringing forward this legislation, to protect endangered species, will help us in the future to promote the Province. It will help the residents of our Province to help take care of our endangered species. It will provide a way for them to do that. It will allow for a scientific plan to be put into place to be approved by science people that will help protect endangered species, Mr. Speaker.

It is a very good piece of legislation. We did public consultations throughout the Province on this legislation. They were well received by individuals all over the Province, with good support. I want to thank an official in our department, Mr. Joe Brazil, our director, who is dealing with the endangered species legislation. Mr. Brazil did a tremendous job of putting this legislation forward and developing it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: He is one of our very dedicated civil servants and did a tremendous job in ensuring that we had a consensus, Mr. Speaker, within the departments. He was here in the last couple of days, but he is back working again today on the West Coast. I want to say that he has done a great job in helping put forward and developing the bill for us, as a group in government and our department and the different departments, to consider. Again, this will certainly be a piece of legislation that we can be very proud of.

When you look at what the Minister of Environment is bringing forward now, new environmental protection legislation, this legislation is showing that we are very much pro-conservation, Mr. Speaker, in this Province, that we are putting in place the right legislation, the right protections, to help protect for the future. So this legislation will go a long way.

We are the sixth province to do this now, Mr. Speaker. This is modeled on other provinces across Canada. We look forward to it working very well. We are looking forward to working with the scientific community in the Province, Mr. Speaker, to protect endangered species and also to see, as we do protect endangered species, such as the pine martin and others, that they will come off the listing in the future because of the good work we will do with our departments, with people in the Province, with conservation groups, who want to participate in helping protect, Mr. Speaker. This is a piece of legislation which will help us do that, and we ask that the second reading be provided.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to say a few words on Bill 33, An Act Respecting The Protection Of Endangered Species. I understand from the minister that there was a fair amount of consultation before this piece of legislation was written. I suppose, if we lived in the real world, we would not need legislation in order to protect endangered species. If we lived in the real world, or if we lived in the ideal world, education should take the place of this piece of legislation. Sometimes I feel that is where we fall short, I say to the minister, that we do not go and deal with the situation and deal with our problems at the right time and at the opportune time.

Mr. Speaker, I suggest to the minister that maybe we should beef up our involvement in going to schools. Maybe we should beef up our activity in going and talking to people at the right age in order to bring forward our concerns, and maybe we would not need a piece of legislation in order to deal with endangered species.

Mr. Speaker, I have read this piece of legislation and there are a couple of items in the legislation that cause me some concern, and I will go through them, I say to the minister. Hopefully he will tabulate them, and when he gets up to close debate on Bill 33, he might be able to address some of those concerns that have been expressed to me and concerns that I have myself in reading Bill 33.

Under section 4, it says, "This Act does not apply to (a) fish, other than freshwater fish and fish which run up from the sea into inland water; or (b) bacteria and viruses." Mr. Speaker, how often have we heard in this Legislature of the need to protection our cod stocks? How often have we heard in this Legislature of the need to protect our salmon stocks? How often have we heard of the need in order to control the harp seal herd as it pertains to some of our endangered species?

Mr. Speaker, there are 200 commercial salmon licences holders in this Province today who had decided that they were going to keep their salmon licences. They were told, when there was a moratorium introduced back in 1992, that the moratorium, I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, was going to be implemented for a five-year period. They had every right to believe that after that five-year period, in 1997, they would be allowed to go back and activate their commercial salmon licences.

So we hear all kinds of reports, I say to the minister, where people have been doing studies of salmon returning to the rivers. We have heard all kinds of reports, I say to the people opposite, about the lack of salmon, the salmon leaving the river and coming back to the river of birth to spawn. We all wonder what is happening. We wonder why we cannot have a commercial salmon fishery anymore.

The minister says there are 121 commercial salmon fishermen out there now who are holding on to those licences, who have decided that they want to fish salmon commercially again - because it is a chance to put bread and butter on the table and be a support to their family - who have been waiting and telling us what the problem is, here in this Legislature. We have been taking it to your federal cousins up in Ottawa, I say to the people on the opposite side, in order to deal with the problem that we are having with the harp seal population as it relates to salmon returning to the rivers. We are not dealing with that.

We can write all the legislation we want, but unless we put teeth in the legislation, and until we deal with the things we know are causing the problem, then how meaningful will it be, Mr. Speaker?

We talk about waiting for the cod stocks to return. No matter who you talk to, everybody has their own reasons and their own understanding of why the cod stocks are not replenishing themselves and returning to our shores.

Mr. Speaker, some of the problems are easily identified. Some of the problems are known. Until we deal with the problems that we know cause that to happen, then how can we expect to deal with the problems that we are not aware of. How can we expect to deal with the problems and allow our own Newfoundland fishermen to go out and be able to fish again, and to commercially fish salmon? Mr. Speaker, I say to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation that that is one disappointment there.

Mr. Speaker, the minister also talks in section 6 about how a species is determined to be at risk. Section 6(4) says, "The minimum qualifications to be a member of the SSAC shall be prescribed in regulations made under subsection 44(1)." Mr. Speaker, if you look at 44(1), there are absolutely no qualifications brought forward whatsoever, no qualifications set to tell you what the qualifications of the board members should be. Mr. Speaker, that is certainly inconsistent.

In Section 9(1) on page 7 of the legislation, I say to the minister, it says, "Where in the opinion of the minister a designation must be made to prevent further harm to a species that faces imminent extirpation or extinction, or to its habitat, the minister may make an emergency designation of the species under paragraph 7(c)." The minister doesn't talk about how long that emergency designation should last. There is no time frame on it whatsoever. Is it going to last in perpetuity? How long is the emergency situation to last?

We read on down, Mr. Speaker, to section 10. It says, "The minister may, with the approval of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council remove the designation of a species where it is recommended by the SSAC, or by COSEWIC - which is the federal committee- "in its assessment of the status of the species, by deleting the name of the species from the appendix in the regulations made under subsection 44(2)."

I say to the minister, if he is to look through his legislation, he will see there is no such thing as subsection 44(2) in the piece of legislation. So, it is very difficult to read a piece of legislation where it refers to sections and subsections and they are not even included in the legislation. It is certainly frustrating, in order to be able to look at some of those things, and not to be able to come away from it feeling any comfort that it is clearly spelled out in the legislation, when the whole section and subsection is not even written in the legislation.

Mr. Speaker, we will move on to Part III, What Happens After a Species is Designated. 13(1). "The minister shall release a management plan for a species to the public within 3 years from the time that the species is designated as vulnerable under paragraph 7(a)."

Now, I submit to people on the other side, that if there was a species in trouble, if there was a species that was determined to be vulnerable, Mr. Speaker, that needed to be protected, I do not know why it would take three years. Why would it take the minister three years in order to designate the species as being vulnerable?

AN HON. MEMBER: It would be gone.

MR. FITZGERALD: It would be gone, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. He is right. It would be gone by then, so why would you need a three-year time frame after it is made known to the minister that a species is vulnerable and a species is at risk? Why would it take three years, Mr. Speaker, in order to designate the species and bring forward some concerns of how to deal with it at that time?

Mr. Speaker, the minister says in 13(4), "The minister may make regulations under subsection 44(2) to provide for the protection of a species designated as vulnerable." I say to the minister again, there is no such clause as 44(2) in this piece of legislation. Where is 44(2)? It is certainly not there, I say to the minister.

Section 15(4), "The minister may make an order under section 28 to protect the habitat of a species designated as extirpated. Again, there is no time period set. There is no time period when the minister should make that designation, I say to people opposite.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in section 16(2) it reads, "A person shall not capture, possess, buy, sell or trade a specimen of a species designated as threatened, endangered or extirpated or part of it or anything derived from it." I say to the minister opposite: How about the taxidermists out there? This is something I can relate to because it happened right in my hometown, it happened right in my own community, where we had a taxidermist who had specimens of birds and animals that he had acquired through legal means and then found himself having to give them up and have a conservation officer come and say: You are not allowed to have that particular species, you are not allowed to have that in your possession. So, how can you bring in a blanket piece of legislation and say that you are not allowed to have a species in your possession that has been designated to be endangered or threatened, if that particular person - and I think if a taxidermist or I think if a person who collects birds and animals - have already had those articles in their possession prior to this piece of legislation? Madam Speaker, there are certainly quite a number of inconsistencies in this particular piece of legislation.

The minister talks about conservation officers, and using conservation officers in order to carry out this piece of legislation. I do not know if the minister can inform the House, when he stands, if there were any conservation officers who were laid off when the move was made to take the wildlife office from St. John's and move it to the West Coast. I do not know if the minister can inform the House if there were any conservation officers who decided to leave their job and not take up residence in other places, Madam Speaker.

Maybe the minister, when he stands, can also inform the House of the duties of conservation officers, because the conservation officers I have talked to tell me that they are stressed beyond the limit of being able to carry out rules and regulations. In fact, for the most part now, conservation officers are also forestry wardens. They are the people who you find on the river one day. They are the people who you find in looking at forestry cut-overs and forestry operations another day, and the next day you find the conservation officers sitting in an office, probably in Bonavista, one or two days a week, writing out permits for domestic cutters. I ask the minister: Is that a wise use of the knowledge and the ability of conservation officers? There is something wrong. There is something wrong, I say to the minister, when we use conservation officers, skilled, trained people, and say to them, you now have to go to an office and spend two or three days a week in that particular office in order to write out permits to allow somebody to go and access a domestic cutting area to cut firewood. Is that a wise use of our people? Is that a wise use of the talents that those conservation officers have? I suggest not.

I can go to the post office and pick up a rabbit licence. I can go to a drug store or a convenience store and pick up a salmon licence. Then why do I have to go and appear before a conservation officer in order to get a domestic licence to cut firewood? Just think about it. Does it make sense?

Only a couple of days ago, I had a call from somebody down in my district who said: Boy, we want you to talk to the minister because it looks like we are going to lose a service. I said: What service might that be? They said: Well, it looks like we may not be getting a conservation officer to come to Bonavista to issue cutting permits anymore. I had a conversation with the Minister of Forest Resources and chatted to him about it and I understand that conservation officers, part of their jurisdiction is under the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, and another part of it comes under the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

I suggested to him then: Look, we do not need a conservation officer to go and issue permits to cut firewood. That can be done by a clerk, if you want. Furthermore, it can be done by the town clerk in a municipality. Why do we need a conservation officer, who has gone and done training, when we have all kinds of problems that people make us aware of, of the reason why we need this piece of legislation, and we use those skilled people to sit at a desk and write out a permit. I think anybody at all can pretty well do that, not to belittle the need or the requirements, but the rules and regulations are clearly stressed. The maps are given. If I go to get a cutting permit, the map is clearly identified. We are not using our people to the best advantage, I say to the minister.

I go on to Part IV, section 22.(1)(c) of this piece of legislation, where it says that conservation officers should "perform other duties that may be assigned to it in regulations made under subsection 44(2)."

I say to the minister: Where is 44(2) in this piece of legislation? Because if you have it, there is a page missing from my piece of legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I hope I do, I say to the minister. This is the reason why I ask the question, because I would think that when a piece of legislation is tabled here in this House that it would be complete. I would think that it would be put forward with the complete piece of legislation, instead of us having to get up here and ask for pages that are missing, or ask for subsections of any piece of legislation when the minister nods his head, laughs and says: You will find out. That is not the way it should be, I say to the minister.

Mr. Speaker, I will just continue on with Part V: How The Habitat Of A Designated Species Is Protected. He goes on to say, in Part V, section 28.(1), "When a species is designated as vulnerable, threatened....the minister may, by order, set aside for the period set out in the order." There is no time factor here. The minister talks about three years in another part of the legislation, where he has three years to make a decision on how to protect a certain species, but here he is talking about when there is a designation made that he should set aside for a period set out in the order and there is no time frame. There is no time frame set out in that particular order.

Then we go on. This is an interesting one, conservation management agreements, section 29 of this particular act. Section 29.(1) says, "The minister may enter into a conservation management agreement with a landowner within an area set aside as recovery habitat or critical habitat."

Mr. Speaker, I am not so certain what the minister has in mind here. When I hear the minister speaking of landowners, the first thing that comes to my mind when you are going to protect the habitat, and if there is a landowner, you think of farmers. You think that the minister might be having some idea that he would have to step in and control what happens on farms. In looking through this piece of legislation, I came across a letter written by Dr. Robert Bailey, who has been a wildlife biologist for thirty years. I am just going to read a couple of sections from this letter because he makes some good points. Like the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, who represents the District of Terra Nova, we certainly have many farmers within our area, we know the value of farmers, and we both know the value of farm land.

Dr. Robert Bailey, a thirty-year wildlife biologist, says - he is talking about legislation, and he is talking about a similar piece of legislation that we are debating here today, this Bill 33. He makes a good point. He says: Creating an oppressive regime through strong legislation that would extend concentrated powers over rural landowners would be a big mistake for saving endangered species and promoting environmental conservation. It hasn't worked in the United States and it will not work here. Conservation progress and lessons from years of experience working with private landowners and the farming community would go down the drain, making endangered wildlife the losers of all.

That is what we are trying to protect here, but this biologist is saying that if we go and interfere with landowners or we put the heavy hand on landowners, the things that would suffer would be the wildlife, the very things that we are trying to protect here.

It says: This legislation would turn farmers, who are only 3 per cent of our population, but own 90 per cent of the land, into a new class of disenfranchised serfs of the urban-environmentalist elite. He goes on to say: Over time, many of us started to realize that the farmer was not an enemy of nature that had to be controlled through law, but a partner with whom we could work to our mutual benefit.

I say to the minister, this is an interesting phase. He says: Protecting endangered wildlife isn't about legislation; it is about people and fostering the will through incentives and dialogue to create something of value. Few urban environmentalists have crossed this bridge to speak to the people on the other side.

That is what I say to the minister, Mr. Speaker: I know he has gone out and he has had consultation. I know he has talked to people, and he indicated earlier that those were some of the rules and recommendations that he brought forward. I know that we should protect wildlife, and if there is an endangered species we should step up and make sure it is protected. I do not think anybody here would argue against that.

You hear the minister talking about the pine marten. It was interesting the day I heard him talking about the pine marten, because I, too, agree that the pine martens and anything else out there that is an endangered species should be protected, but I say to the minister, the Martins that I would like to see protected are the Les Martins and the Scott Martins down in Elliston. I say to the minister, the Martins that I would like to see protected are Alex Martins and the Dulcie Martins in Little Catalina.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: I say to the minister, the Martins that I would like to see protected are the two-legged Martins who inhabit rural Newfoundland and Labrador. That is where we are falling short here, and that is where this government is failing the mark.

Mr. Speaker, I support the legislation. There should be some changes, but I say to the people opposite that the real endangered species in this Province is not wildlife as we know it; it is people: people who are going to Port aux Basque to get on the boat; people who you see lined up at the airport every day to go to other parts of this country; people like my daughters and your sons who have left this Province through no choice of their own in order to have to go to work somewhere else. That is the species that I would like to see protected in this Province. That is the kind of legislation and the governance that I would like to see this government bring in to protect.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM SPEAKER (M. Hodder): The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

We, too, support the endangered species legislation as it has been nearly four years since government released the public consultation paper, an Endangered Species Act, for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I think we owe it to our children and to our grandchildren to make sure we are responsible enough that the wildlife and the plant life that we have in this Province is protected for many generations to come.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has identified twenty-three species and populations that are at risk in Newfoundland and Labrador and in coastal regions of the Atlantic. Some of these include the Newfoundland population of the American pine marten, which was listed as threatened in 1986 and upgraded as endangered in April of 1996. This was again confirmed in May of 2000.

The perigon falcon was first listed as threatened in April of 1999, and confirmed again in May of 2000. In fact, last spring there was a decrease in Labrador's perigon falcon population. Ten years ago, 80 per cent of the falcons' nesting sites in Labrador were occupied. Last summer, only 30 per cent of the nests had birds. While this decrease was attributed to a cold spring, it illustrates the need for this Province to continue monitoring species and take action where needed to ensure the threatened species are protected.

Unfortunately, Madam Speaker, there have been several species in our Province that have become extinct, such as the great awk, believed to have become extinct in 1844, and the Labrador duck, believed to have become extinct around 1875. Other species have been given special concern, meaning its characteristics make it sensitive to human activities or natural events, like the polar bear and the eastern population of the harlequin duck.

There is no doubt that this Province must do more to protect endangered species, as well as those animals and plants that have been identified as threatened or extirpated. Over the past several years a coalition of environment groups, such as the Canadian Nature Federation, the Sierra Club and the Protected Areas Association have compiled and released a report card on the implementation of the National Accord for the Protection of a Species at Risk. The National Accord for the Protection of a Species at Risk was reached five years ago. Since then, Madam Speaker, the yearly report cards have been released grading the federal, provincial and territorial governments on their performance since signing this agreement. Since this legislation has been tabled in our Legislature within the last week, this year's report card was based on the existing legislation, and this year's report card for Newfoundland and Labrador gave this Province a failing grade of F.

The new legislation addresses some of the concerns of the old legislation; however, there are some points that must be raised. An important part of any legislation, Madam Speaker, is the protection of habitat for animals and plants. This year's report card on the implementation of the National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk gave Nova Scotia the highest grade; in part, because of that province's commitment and reliance on sound science to determine what species are listed.

In Nova Scotia's legislation, Madam Speaker, this commitment is set out in that the Species at Risk Working Group, appointed by the minister, must have members who are recognized scientific experts in their field. They must be experts on the status and population, in the biology of plants, animals, other organisms and their habitats, or in the conservation biology, ecology and geography of plants, animals and other organisms. In setting minimum qualifications for the members of the Species Status Advisory Committee, the minister in our Province must ensure that members have similar qualifications.

While our legislation states that decisions should be based on the best scientific knowledge available, the Nova Scotia legislation includes a clause that clearly states: The precautionary principle that a lack of full scientific certainty must not be used as a reason for postponing measures to avoid or minimize the threat of a species at risk.

This, Madam Speaker, ensures that in the absence of scientific information, species at risk will not be further affected by activities that are threatening while information is being gathered.

The Nova Scotia legislation also states that a commitment to a national co-operative approach for the conservation of species at risk, as agreed in the National Accord for the protection of these species, provide people of that province with the opportunity for meaningful participation in relation to conservation.

In adding to protecting endangered species, an important function of this legislation is its intent to designate species as vulnerable, threatened, endangered or extinct. This should assist in tracking the populations of species in this Province so that we are also aware of those species that are in great abundance, that may be affecting the population of other species. One that comes to mind, Madam Speaker, is the coyote, which has been reported to be increasing in numbers in the last few years. I do not hear too much about that, Madam Speaker, in the St. John's area or in this House, but I can tell you that if you travel throughout rural Newfoundland you will find much conversation taking place about coyotes and their numbers in the recent years.

I think it is incumbent, Madam Speaker, and I call on the minister to do a survey on the coyote populations in this Province, their rate of growth, their effect on other species; because, Madam Speaker, the coyote is an animal that has the ability to go either up the food chain or down the food chain, and they do not have any natural predators in this Province so their ability to grow and become overpopulated and become a real problem is a real possibility that may occur within a few short years because of their ability to breed uninhibited by any natural predator.

I say to the minister that it is time for this Province to undertake a study to find out what effect the coyote population is having on the Province at the present time, and try and look into the future at their rates of growth to find out what their numbers estimated would be in a few short years from now. I believe, Madam Speaker, that number will be alarming.

There is also a need, Madam Speaker, for conservation officers and, as was mentioned by the previous speaker, these officers are overworked at the present time. Their responsibilities cover a wide gamut of things. The number, particularly in the Labrador portion of our Province, the number of conservation officers that are there at the present time for the area that they have to cover, the thousands of square kilometres they are responsible for, it is not possible, Madam Speaker, and I say to the minister, it is not possible for them to adequately do the job that they have been assigned to do. There has to be an increase in the number of officers out in the field who can fulfill their responsibilities and their duties according to the laws and regulations that they operate under.

This, Madam Speaker, is a very important piece of legislation; there is no question about that. Our priority and responsibility to future generations are governed by pieces of legislation like this, and I think that everybody in this Province is starting to take more seriously the job that they have in order to ensure that their children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy the beauty of this Province as generations before them have.

In closing, Madam Speaker, I would just like to say that we support this piece of legislation. We look forward to the implementation. It is something that was lacking in the Province prior to this, and hopefully it will make a difference.

Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I want to add a few remarks to the comments of my colleague from Labrador West on the endangered species legislation before the House. I want to underline that it is a very important piece of legislation because we have in this Province seen the extinction of a number of species that were native to this Province, including the Labrador wolf which was extinguished by hunting in this century and, of course, the great awk which everyone knows about, which became extinct in the last century.

We have to know as well that this Province, up until this year, depends on whatever grades might be given by the Canadian Nature Foundation, has been given the grade of F on two successive years for not bringing forth legislation to protect endangered species. Now, at least we have legislation but there are some serious flaws in it. I wanted to take a few minutes of the time of the House to talk about those flaws.

The principle flaw is the fact that it is the minister and Lieutenant-Governor in Council, in other words the Cabinet, who decides whether or not a species is fitted into any one of the categories that are provided for under the act, whether they are going to be designated as vulnerable, threatened, endangered, extirpated or extinct.

Now, we have a scientific panel and we know who one of them are, the national panel called the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. That body is a scientific body. The minister has provision for establishment of a Species Status Advisory Committee under the legislation. There is no provision in the legislation as to what the qualifications of these people are, whether they are to be scientific or otherwise just a general government appointee of people who they would like to appoint to a committee.

The Nova Scotia legislation, our sister province, spells out in the legislation that these people are to be scientifically qualified. Our legislation does not. The real problem after that, Madam Speaker, is that when these committees decide that a particular species is to be placed in the category of threatened or endangered, that is not the end of the matter. The minister, through the Lieutenant-Governor in Council - the Cabinet - the Cabinet can say: No, no we have received this advice. It has been designated by the scientists as threatened but we, in our wisdom, do not think it is threatened. It should be in the category of vulnerable instead of threatened, or it should not be considered endangered, only threatened, because certain provisions of the act kick in when the species is designated as threatened and some whether it is endangered.

The weakness of this legislation is that it is legislation that has a political designation of a species into one category or the other and not a scientific designation. That is wrong, Madam Speaker. If the government wishes to make political decisions by saying: Well, we recognize that the species may be endangered or may be threatened but we do not propose to do anything about it, let them admit that, instead of trying to get around it by saying: Well, the scientific people are saying that it is threatened but we do not think that is proper; we think it is really only in another category.

This should not be a political decision, Madam Speaker. It should be one that is based on scientific facts and scientific information that is available to these panels that have the expertise to determine whether or not these particular endangered species should be considered to be either endangered or extirpated, which really means that they no longer exist in the wild in this particular Province.

There is also another significant weakness, because this should not be a political designation. There is no expertise in the Cabinet, I say to you, Madam Speaker, and to the minister, there is no expertise in the Cabinet to determine whether or not a species should be considered threatened, endangered, extirpated or extinct. That is something that should be left to the scientists who are able to evaluate the scientific information.

The other weakness is that there is no mandatory protection for vulnerable species. In fact, the provision that makes it an offence to harass, disturb, injure, or kill an individual of a species designated as threatened, endangered or extirpated, it is an offence to do that. It is an offence to capture, possess, buy, sell or trade a species designated as threatened, endangered or extirpated.

There is no provision preventing people from doing any of those things with vulnerable species. I want the minister to explain why a species designated as vulnerable, for which management plans can be put forward, is not protected from being disturbed, harassed, injured, killed, sold, captured, bought, sold or traded. That is something that I thing the minister has an obligation to explain to this House before we are being asked to pass it at a second reading.

Another serious weakness for those species that are designated as threatened or endangered, is the length of time which the minister is given to come up with a management plan, who has up to two years to do that. There is a very important exception here. It is an exception that says that he does not have to release a recovery plan for a threatened or endangered species if the minister determines that the recovery of a species is not feasible, in which case he shall release a statement to that effect within the same time period.

Madam Speaker, that seems to me to be another serious weakness in this legislation: that in this legislation a species can be designated as threatened, designated as endangered, and the minister is expected to establish a recovery team and release a recovery plan unless the minister - not the recovery team, not the scientists, not the people who are advising the minister, but the minister himself - decides that it is not feasible. What does that mean? Does that mean it is going to cost too much? Does it mean it is going to cost more than the minister wants to spend? Does it mean something or does it not? Are we, in effect, saying that we are going to allow the extermination or the extinction of species because of a simple ministerial discretion saying: Well, I don't think it is feasible to recover this species so we are going to let it go.

We have a responsibility. I say to the Member for Bonavista South that the two-legged Martins have a responsibility to the four-legged martens, and we, collectively, have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to protect the species in this Province and on this planet from extinction. That responsibility is part of our commitment as citizens of the world and citizens of this Province.

I say to anybody who wants to think that this is not important because people are more important than the extinction of animals, that may be. If it is a moral choice between the extinction of an animal or the extinction of a human population, there is a clear choice to be made, but I do not think that kind of a demagoguery and suggestion that somehow or other we are dealing with an unimportant issue because other issues in the Province, dealing with the important socio-economic problems that we have in rural Newfoundland that have not been properly dealt with, I do not think that is an excuse to say that we can pay no attention to our obligations, to our moral obligations to ourselves and to the generations to come to protect the species that we have been given the obligation, the stewardship, to look after, because we have the ability to make them extinct.

That is all I have to say, Madam Speaker, but I think that these are important points and I hope the minister will address them here in this debate at second reading.

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. If the minister speaks now he will close the debate.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I appreciate the opportunity to take a few minutes to respond to some of the issues that were raised in the discussion and in the debate. There are a number of comments that were made and I just want to take a few minutes to just go over some of the thoughts that were outlined.

In reference to the Leader of the NDP and the fact that it would be a political decision, basically this legislation is the same as in five other provinces. The only other province is Nova Scotia, that allows for an automatic listing when it comes to an endangered species. Basically, we are doing what the other provinces are doing. Nova Scotia is the only example of it being automatic without having the Cabinet have the final say. The Cabinet will have the final say in this, but they will be responding to scientific evidence that will be presented in an organized fashion. If they disagree with that evidence, they will have to make that public.

We believe that this process will work quite well. We believe the process will see, when the appropriate work is done by the scientists who will be appointed to the committee, we believe that when this work is done we will see this occur, that we will see the proper listings occur, when needed, all based on scientific evidence, not based on politics or a political agenda, and the requirements will be for the minister of the day to bring forward the information that the scientists put together, to bring it forward, and there will be requirements of the government of the day, and Cabinet, to deal with the issue. We do not see that as a major issue. We see that as just being part of the process and we believe that it will work quite well.

With reference to the Member for Labrador West, who was talking about the coyote situation in the Province, Madam Speaker, our officials now are bringing a recommendation forward on the coyote issue and we expect to have something announced on that issue in the next period of time. There has been some research work going with Memorial University on this issue, with the science division and our people in Wildlife Division, and we are expecting to have some direction to take on that issue in very short order.

I have to point out to the critic for the PC Opposition, the Member for Bonavista South, he was having trouble finding Section 44(2). He had better get some more people over there to do some more looking, I suppose, or analyzing, because three times he referenced the fact that 44(2) does not exist. If you look in the act, I seem to be able to find it. Now, we are going to have to maybe get some new advice over there or something for whoever does the homework for the Opposition critic, because it is clearly right here, 44(2), and it describes the different contents: (a), (b), (c), (d), (e) and (f). Also, it described the rationale for why we are bringing forward the act and the section. I will send a copy over to the hon. member, if he wants to see it. It is no problem, because it is there. It is there in the section that I have, so we will certainly send it over. Maybe he does not have the appropriate section, but again I will respond to his comments on the issue.

He referenced the fact that marine fish will not be covered, and that is because it is a federal responsibility and the federal legislation will be covering it. That is clearly understood by the people involved in this provincially with the science people involved, and federally with the science people involved, so the COSEWIC designations, the COSEWIC committee, the federal committee, will deal with marine fish under the act as it is under the Constitution. So, that is clearly understood by most people and I want to make sure that the member clearly understands that.

When it comes to conservation officers, I have to say to the Member for Bonavista South that conservation officers do a lot of work in this Province. As a matter of fact, I am not sure what he was advocating. Maybe he is advocating that we go back to the way it was, that if you were the forestry officer out there, that you would go by the officer for wildlife, two trucks going down the road, and if one only saw an offence under one act, you were not allow to do something with it because you were only covering one act when it came to enforcement, Madam Speaker. What we did a number of years ago is, we allowed for conservation officers to enforce different acts. They were the changes that were made and they are working pretty effectively in our outdoors. They are working quite well. Conservation officers perform an extremely important role for us in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, all over the Province. We do have a large piece of geography to cover, but our enforcement officers have done a tremendous job. They are very good at what they do, they are very well trained at what they do, and we are going to be asking them now to also help us with this endangered species legislation, in the enforcement of that legislation.

As the member was indicating, to say that they just sit in an office and do work in an office, they do a lot more than that, Madam Speaker, I have to say. They are very valuable in our Province for the protection -

MR. FITZGERALD: On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Madam Speaker, just a point of clarification. This member never did stand here and say that the officers were not doing this or were not doing something else. What I said was, and I made it quite clear, I asked if it was a wise use of the resources that we had in order to have conservation officers issuing permits when they could use their skills and their expertise doing what they were trained to do. That is what this member said.

The other part of it, Madam Speaker, is that there is no 44(2), I say, in the piece of legislation that I have here. If the member wants to share his piece of legislation with me, then I will gladly do it.

MADAM SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker, I just want to say that we believe this legislation is going to work very well and we look forward to seeing it implemented, to seeing it passed through this hon. House of Assembly. We look forward to the scientific advice that we are going to get now in the process, and we look forward to this being very much a piece of legislation that will promote conservation in the Province.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting The Protection Of Endangered Species," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 33)

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Order 15, Madam Speaker, second reading of Bill 35.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Facilitate Electronic Commerce By Removing Barriers To The Use Of Electronic Communication." (Bill 35)

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. NOEL: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

It is a pleasure for me to have an opportunity to urge all members to support this particular bill, Madam Speaker. The Electronic Commerce Act would establish basic rules for the use of electronic communications and give electronic signatures and contracts the same legal status as their paper counterpart.

I believe, Madam Speaker, the need for such a bill is illustrated by a story in today's The Telegram which indicates that in 2000, seventy-seven per cent of households who regularly use the Internet from home where concerned about the security of financial transactions, while more than 70 per cent had concerns about privacy issues such as being put on multiple marketing mailing lists, et cetera.

Madam Speaker, I think all hon. members appreciate the fact that electronic commerce is a growing segment of economic activity in our Province as well as throughout the country and the world, and we have to do everything we can -

MR. E. BYRNE: A point of order, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: I apologize for interrupting the minister; there was certainly no intent to do that.

Madam Speaker, we have been here since the House opened, for several days now, and I want to say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, your continued interruptions and barbs across the House to members is starting to interrupt even your own members.

I would suggest that if you want to speak on a piece of legislation, fair enough, we all speak on a piece of legislation, but your behavior is consistent. It is day over day, hour over hour. The usual banter, thrust and throw across the House, that goes with it, but there comes a time when the line has been crossed. Let the rest of us have the opportunity to listen to the minister and respond.

The usual banter between members is fair enough, but when it is so over the top with facetious comments that are made, shouted across the House, it is time to put a stop to it and let's get on to the business of government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. NOEL: Madam Speaker, as I was saying, electronic commerce is becoming a far more important part of economic activities for our people and we have to do everything we can to facilitate their participation in this sort of business. We have to do it for consumers, Madam Speaker, and for businesses who are trying to get into this area of commerce.

Electronic commerce is very important for our particular society because we are a relatively small community and we are relatively isolated, so electronic commerce makes the whole world our market. Unfortunately, it also makes the whole world our competitor, so we have to do everything that we can to ensure that our people are as well prepared as possible to participate in these activities.

I think we have done a very good job so far. Our Province has been at the forefront of the IT industry. I think we are one of the most connected and one of the most wired provinces in the country and, as a matter of fact, anywhere in the world. We have some great entrepreneurs who are developing business in this area and a lot of our people are using electronic commerce and the Internet and the Web to do their business as well as other activities. I think we are off to a great start in this regard, and we have to now do what is necessary to enable our people to move ahead as rapidly as possible and to ensure that they are able to participate with as much security and privacy as they can.

We have realized, as I just indicated in the piece that I quoted from The Telegram , that a lot of our people have fears in this regard, and the whole country realizes that. As a result of that, we are trying to harmonize the participation in electronic commerce throughout the country, between the various provinces and indeed with other countries. That is what this particular act endeavors to do. Specifically consumers and businesses want some assurance that there will be well defined rules to govern such transactions and governments have legislation in place throughout the country to deal with this.

Electronic commerce has been a harmonization initiative across the country. Every province and territory has either introduced or enacted electronic commerce legislation. Electronic commerce legislation is very similar amongst all provinces and territories. This is important due to the potential for intergovernmental transactions. All of the jurisdictions have legislation related to electronic commerce based on the Uniform Electronic Commerce Act drafted by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada. The goal of this conference, in developing the model legislation, was to ensure harmonization of the laws provincially.

This new legislation will spur the electronic commerce industry by promoting greater clarity between online buyers and sellers. By passing this law, government is encouraging companies to conduct business over the Internet, which is part of the broad transition to an Internet-based economy and should provide significant time and cost savings. The legislation will provide comfort for consumers and provide a legal standard for online transactions.

Madam Speaker, I do not anticipate much opposition to this particular bill. I encourage all members to consider it carefully and to indicate their support.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Barbe.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. YOUNG: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I have a few notes on Bill 35. Bill 35 would provide a legal framework to facilitate commerce and communication by electronic means. It introduced into legislation via definition under section 2(c) an electric signature as "...electronic information that a person has created or adopted in order to sign a document..."

Section 11 of the bill stipulates that a requirement under a law is satisfied by an electronic signature and sets forth the requirements of an electronic signature to be reliable.

Furthermore through section 6 of the bill, "Information shall not be denied legal effect or enforceability by reason only that it is electronic." There are, however, documents and information that are exempt for this bill and a process via regulation where other information can, by regulation, be deemed not to fall under this act.

Of concern, however, is that information is stored and protected from alteration. Documents can be easily manipulated in electronic form, and this process of legislation is very general with respect to protecting the integrity of electronic documents, whether it is the retention of the originals or otherwise.

This bill is long overdue, but it is really vague in the manner in which the integrity of the information transacted is protected, especially information of this sort.

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

It is a clear that in Bill 35 the intent, the spirit and most of the bill is certainly aimed at bringing the use of electronics into a modern age; obviously.

I appreciate the opening remarks by the minister in terms of second reading, and we will get, I guess, more of an opportunity in the clause-by-clause debate to point out some concerns.

Second reading, as most people know, is an opportunity to debate generally the merits or demerits of this piece of legislation. There are some concerns. The legislation, for example, in our view, lacks clarity with respect to its application. That is one of the concerns we have. What does that means? How does it apply, for example, to a variety of situations in law? How does it apply to, say, the separation agreements or marriage contracts?

The benefit associated, obviously, with facilitating commerce, Madam Speaker, with respect to entering into business contracts, and giving notices, for example, pursuant to such contracts, obviously is acceptable. In many cases it is being done already. This is just, I guess, from a legislative point of view, from a province and a government's point of view, legalizing that practice, broadening the scope of that practice and what is acceptable in today's standards in communications, in entering into contracts, into relationships, business, personal or otherwise.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible)..

MR. E. BYRNE: Absolutely! That is what legislation does. As the minister has correctly pointed out, giving of the force of law which gives to the Crown, on behalf of society and the people generally, to provide and to set parameters of where application of this act is permissible or not permissible. So I understand it, and we support, generally, the thrust, the intent and the spirit of this particular piece of legislation. There is no question about that.

I think as we go through, in particular the committee stage of the bill, we will get a chance to talk more specifically about certain aspects, or lack off aspects, that could potentially put us into some gray areas, or hazardous sorts of situations. I want to reference a couple of those right now, if I may.

The legislation is broad in it's application, I suppose, as it is intended to be, but, Madam Speaker, it could potentially, in our view, create some turmoil in certain instances and substantial turmoil in other instances with respect to court processes requiring original documents. Certainly, as the minister responsible for the legislation and drafting it with officials from his department, this is an issue that must have come up in terms of the acceptance of original documents and the impact upon them.

I have an interesting story, for example, of reference with myself. I think the principle of it is what is important. During a by-election in 1999, I was in Clarenville supporting our candidate like we should do. I knocked on a door, an individual came out and she had a huge problem with an e-mail that I had sent to her. Immediately I knew there was a problem. As Leader of the Party, and as a member - Leader of the Party, in particular - I receive a lot of e-mails, but I took a position that I would never respond by e-mail to an individual. I would always respond by a call or a letter with my original signature on it. Anyway, in my absence somebody on staff had sent her an e-mail and signed my name to it. I did not see it. The content and substance of it is not important, what is important here is that it makes a point for what I am trying to stress here, that in doing that we have to be careful and cognizant of the fact that when communicating by these means - and electronic signatures are acceptable - there are those instances where we could open ourselves up to fraudulent situations.

The minister obviously knows that, and when he closes the debate, certainly in clause by clause, we will get an opportunity to debate it more fully. The point of the matter is - back to the story - upon being presented with a situation I discovered what had happened. Obviously I went back, accepted responsibility for it and apologized to her, but I did not know that somebody had entered into - it was a contract of sorts. It was a position by the Leader of the Opposition, sent to her via e-mail with sincerely E. Byrne on it. That happens a lot with political staff.

As ministers know, the Premier certainly knows, the Leader of the Opposition knows, and others know, when you have a number of people working for you you cannot deal with the thousand things that cross your desk today. But, it raises the point of possible fraudulent situations that we may enter into.

I made the point with respect to court processes and original documents. These sworn affidavits, as an example, and the impact on some contracts which can be filed in court, whether it is marriage contracts, separation agreements - my legal friends on either side of me would know.

There are other things. Section IV of the bill, for example, lists documents to which the act does not apply. Interesting! It can be argued, I think, with some degree of success, that this section is inadequate. There is an inadequate listing, I should say, that creates, as I mentioned before, potential for fraudulent circumstances where signatures are required to give effect in law or the force of law, but where signatures are required to give effect to a document, which can be filed in court proceedings and, in particular, affidavits where oaths are to be taken. So this is an area of concern, I point out to the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

Another section of the bill refers and actually allows a public body to consent to accept electronic information. If we look at the definition of public body, which is now before the House, in the Freedom of Information legislation, is it a very broad definition of what constitutes a public body, but allows them to consent to accept electronic information. I say to the minister: The definition, in our view, does not include the courts, although we do not have the regulations, and obviously regulations come after legislation, because they are supposed to be subordinate to the legislation in the House. You would not see any regulations until the legislation is actually passed, the Lieutenant-Governor signs it, and then the Cabinet would deal with the regulations. That is the process of government. I understand that. It is an interesting point that we raise, I believe.

This is our reading of it, and correct us if we are wrong. It may be defined that a public body has accepted the validity of a document on the basis of an electronic signature. Whereas, the validity - we want to be consistent - of such an electronic signature would not necessarily be accepted in the courts. I think this is an area that we need to deal with, be cognizant of, and maybe the minister, before we get to the last process in this bill, which is third reading and its ultimate passage with amendments, if he can satisfy some of the concerns that we have raised, then we will listen to what he has to say.

I do not want to prolong this too much because we will have more to say in second reading, but, I guess, to conclude: The wording - and I am speaking generally about the bill - the wording is very general in the bill. I think it needs to be tightened a little bit more, it needs to be better defined, as to the circumstances where electronic signatures are acceptable or unacceptable. I really think we need to look at that section of it. Furthermore, I think what we should ensure is that there be a full-fledged review.

I think this is important, because we are entering into, not a new area so much when we talk about electronic signatures, but we are entering into a new area with respect to giving force of the law and legislation to the broader use and application of this. I think we should put in place, we need to look at seriously putting in place, a full-fledged review process to determine if this impacts on the common law associated with contracts, core processes, etc. I think if there was an area where we had concern, and we do, with this particular piece of legislation, it centres around the comments that I have put forward today.

With that, Madam Speaker, I will conclude my remarks on second reading of Bill 35, an Act to Facilitate Electronic Commerce By Removing Barriers To The Use Of Electronic Communication, and say that: If these concerns can be satisfied, that if we are committed, or if we know the full extent and implications of this particular piece of legislation to the extent that we can, obviously, based on your role in bringing forward legislation and our role is trying to look at it internally, to pick apart where we think we can make recommendations and amendments, ultimately for the better good of that particular piece of legislation, well certainly in that spirit we support this legislation.

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I would like to speak for a few moments on Bill 35, An Act to Facilitate Electronic Commerce. It is the second reading of this legislation and, of course, I think all of us here in this House would like to support, in principle, the moving forward on the issue of people in this Province and/or businesses in this Province, in particular, because people in this Province can already do it in terms of participation in electronic commerce or electronic communications. There are some necessary changes that need to be made in order to facilitate that.

I do have some concerns that arise in reviewing the legislation and understanding, even in my own use of computers or use of the Internet or use of e-mail, it is not always as certain as the legislation would have one believe in terms of who one is communicating with on the Internet, or where that person or company or body is located. It is almost impossible to find out in many cases and purposely so in some cases. Yet, we are being asked, at this point, to verify and take notice of the fact that addressees receive certain communications at certain times because they are accessible and may be downloaded. I presume that is what that means.

There is no definition of accessible in this legislation. It is not at all clear to me what that means or how it would be interrupted by a court that might be asked interrupt what accessible means, when a communication is deemed to have been received. For example, in section 10(b), "the electronic information is accessible by the other person, and capable of being retained by the other person for subsequent reference," this talks about accessible and capable of being retained. Now, does that mean that they have a computer in their house and that the message is there in their memory and they can download it? Does that mean that they can go to the library and access it? What does this really mean? What are we getting into here and what steps might need to be taken to protect consumers under the E-Commerce?

I know in other types of commercial arrangements, specific protections are placed by consumers. In the old Sale of Goods Act, a door-to-door salesman, you had ten days to get out of a transaction if you bought a vacuum from a door-to-door salesperson. Under the Mortgage Brokers Act, you have a forty-eight hour clause where you have to be given certain information beforehand.

Electronic commerce is to the point now where sometimes you are even afraid to open a piece of e-mail because you do not know what that is triggering, whether it be a virus in your computer or whether it is triggering- in my e-mail, the most recent one that I got, you cannot even tell who the addressee is, whatever name they use. They have a name, but there is no electronic address associated with the e-mail. In order to find out where that comes from- I am not even sure how you do it. You see, if you know who your e-mail is coming from you know what the address is, but if you get an e-mail transmission from certain - I am not even sure what they are called - certain of the programs and applications that deliver and look after e-mails, it is not clear, there is no e-mail address, you do not know where it is. Who lives at hotmail.com? They could be somewhere in Australia. If you are going to be doing business on the Internet there obviously has to be some clear way of knowing who you are doing business with and where that person is.

The other side of entering into a contract is enforcing it. The other side of entering into a contract is being able to get your money back if you have been done in. The other side of having a legally binding agreement - it might be legally binding on you and it may well be, in theory, legally binding on the other party, but if you do not know where that party is, what state, what province or what country even, then I think there are questions that arise when you look at this legislation.

I appreciate the fact that this is legislation where the wording is proposed by the Uniform Law Commission and it may even be in place in other provinces. That does not overly impress me, Mr. Speaker. If we have not satisfied ourselves that it is suitable to this Province - there is no provision here for the legislation coming into force at a later date, no period by which there will be some education and understanding. So presumably, the legislation, if it is passed in this session of the House, will come into force as soon as the Lieutenant-Governor assigns the legislation which he will do when we close the House. All of a sudden, on December 14, 15, 16 or 21, this will be the law in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Often we see provisions of legislation that will come into force in six months time, or come into force on a date to be set by proclamation, to allow for regulations if necessary and to allow for an education of the public if necessary.

The Minister of Justice, I am sure, will agree that if you go to court and say, well, I did not know that was the law, I did not know I was bound by that, I did not know that this was going to make me legally obliged, the judge will tell you, and the courts will tell you, that ignorance of the law is no excuse. What provision is there for people to understand how they can use this law, what the law applies to, what they should be wary of when they are dealing with commerce on the Internet, should there be any special provisions to protect people who might be inclined to enter into contracts very quickly on the Internet, because accessability is so easy if someone is on the Internet?

What about electronic gambling? Can we now have that be a part of legally binding agreements, electronic gambling on the Internet which -I am just looking for a newspaper clipping from the National Post a couple of days ago indicating that seniors, of all people, are more prone than any other age group to be sucked in, I guess, to gambling on the Internet. Is there any protection there for consumers who may be particularly vulnerable to, in a spontaneous way, or without thinking, entering into contracts that might, through this legislation, make it legally binding on them in a way that if we had the time to think about it, we would want to put in provisions in legislation such as this to make sure that that did not happen.

I recognize that we all want to feel that we are modern, that we are entering into the modern age, the computer era, the Internet and all of that stuff. We all like to see ourselves as being in the high technology industry. We would all like to see that happen and we all want to believe that we are capable of it, but as the minister said, people are a little wary of this. I, for one, am very, very cautious about what I might or might not do in terms of entering into transactions on the Internet. I do so some electronic banking, but only after becoming convinced that you have, I think it is called a 128 bit encryption system or something, that one of the national Canadian banks has in place, that they stand behind and have insurance to cover and is verified as being secret and private and all of that. I took the leap of fate to trust that and I can now transfer money from one account to another on a bank's website or pay a loan, or pay a bill. I pay my phone bill on the Internet, I pay my light bill on the Internet, and I think it is a great convenience. It is wonderful stuff. There is a lot to be said for it.

Broadly speaking, without those kinds of special protections, we know that electronic commerce, whether it be the Pentagon, is open to hacking by people who are very knowledgeable in the whole area of playing with computers. There are fears, and there are legitimate fears, I say to the minister. It is not just people out there who are afraid of technology like people who are afraid to use a bank machine and need to be encouraged to do that. There are people with legitimate concerns about how electronic commerce would operate, what kind of obligations people might get themselves into. Is there a need to protect people? Is there a need for a cooling off period, perhaps? Is there a need for more certainty than this bill seems to provide?

It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that this is the type of legislation that we ought not to rush into. I think in principle everybody here would say, yes, we would like to move forward and see the electronic transactions be enabled. We would like to see businesses in this Province be able to offer services electronically and come up with binding agreements as a result of that, but I am wondering whether the scope of this legislation is too broad; whether the scope of this legislation is beyond what people expect and want; whether it is beyond people's understanding and capability - capability on a very quick basis - whether there needs to be a period of time for the minister to ensure that the public is educated about how this operation and what this means to them before it becomes law; whether or not this is the kind of legislation that should be referred to a standing committee, a Legislation Review Committee of this House which we have provision in our Standing Orders to do, to refer this to a standing committee; to allow them to listen to the minister's advisors; to explain exactly how this works and answer the questions that have been asked here today, and more that the public might have if they knew about it.

This is an important step forward, and perhaps a very positive step forward, and if it is done right it should be a positive step forward to allow business and commerce to be transacted in this way and to be legally binding. I really do think that we have to use the processes of the Legislature, the Standing Committee on Legislation Review. We can do that according to our rules. I think it is Rule 56, I say to our Government House Leader, perhaps 58, that allows a bill, after second reading, to be sent to a committee for consideration and the advisors from the Legislative Council office or the minister's staff, or from the Department of Justice to talk about it. Perhaps the committee might want to consider a period of time before the bill becomes law so that there can be a public education campaign if one is necessary.

These are the kind of things that we, as legislators, have an obligation to raise in the House of Assembly when legislation of this kind is coming forward. It is not enough for the minister to say: We think it is good, let's pass it, and anybody who does not want to pass it, they are trying to keep us in the Dark Ages or in the Stone Age. That is not enough. It is not enough to say this is progressive legislation. It is not enough to say that it is time we were into the electronic age. We have to make sure, Mr. Speaker, that the bill is satisfactory to the people of this Province, and that the necessary safeguards are in place.

That is why we do have a Legislature, I say to the minister. I know the minister is not saying we should ram it through, but that is why we have a Legislature, so that others, other than the government, can look at this, can raise concerns, can say that perhaps this needs a greater review. I think this is a piece of legislation that needs a little bit more review before we rush into it and see it passed. I looked, expecting to see that this was going to be legislation that would come in force at some later date or that would come in force on a day to be fixed by proclamation, to allow for a period of public education and information, even, on what it is and what it means.

I would say to the minister, if the minister is referring to the story in The Telegram of people's fears and reluctance to use electronic commerce, this is not going to help them. This is not going to remove any fears. In fact, this may make legally binding things that are not now legally binding, but that people go along with for the sake of doing business. I am not saying it is bad legislation but I am saying it is legislation that deserves further study, further review and further convincing before we should pass it in this House.

I know the Opposition House Leader, the Member for Kilbride, has raised a number of concerns. The Member for St. Barbe raised a number of considerations. I have raised a number of considerations as to what the location is of the people you are dealing with on the Internet, who they are, where they are, how do you know where they are? Is there a way of requiring that persons who do business on the Internet with this Province, should there be a provision for ensuring that the people who are doing business with them are able to find them? What is their place of business? There is a reference here to habitual place of business. If you are doing business on the Internet, no one necessarily knows what your habitual place of business is. It may be a server in somebody's basement. It may be a server in another country where the true location of that business is.

I do not know if all those questions have been answered, and I am not sure the minister can answer them. I think that more than the minister needs to be convinced that this legislation should pass here today before we are prepared to give it full accord.

I will say that at this stage I am prepared to say that we are prepared to give approval in principle to legislation on electronic commerce. Further than that, I would ask that the government consider sending this to one of the standing committees, the Legislation Review Committee that is already in place, for a detailed review and perhaps for an opportunity for those questions to be answered prior to this bill going forward beyond second reading.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER (Mercer): If the minister speaks now, he will close debate on the bill.

The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. NOEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to thank members for their support in principle, at any rate, apparently, for the bill at this stage. We are not endeavoring to rush anything through. We realize that this is a complicated area of activity and we want to have as much discussion and debate as possible. I think we all recognize that the Internet and e-commerce holds great potential for good opportunities and for economic development and things like that for our people, but it also has great potential for danger and we are seeing examples of that every day.

I am not pretending to follow in the footsteps of Al Gore who, I think, claimed at one point to have invented the Internet. I am not pretending to have invented legislation to govern the Internet throughout the world, so I would caution the last speaker not to be overly concerned about what this particular bill does not do. I appreciate his legitimate concerns.

This bill has a very specific purpose, as indicated in the title, An Act To Facilitate Electronic Commerce By Removing Barriers To The Use Of Electronic Communication. The particular purpose is to give electronic signatures and contracts the same legal status as their paper counterparts, so it has a very specific purpose.

We all realize that there are all kinds of things that can happen through electronic commerce and through the Internet which have to be dealt with, and we will try to develop legislation to do that insofar as it may be appropriate. At this particular time we are trying to accomplish that in particular. We have assessed most of the concerns that have been raised here today, and we feel that this bill addresses them adequately. I will be interested to listen to even more specific discussion of the bill in future readings, and if there is anything that we can do to improve the bill, we will certainly be prepared to do it.

Our government is doing many things to try and facilitate the opportunities for our people to participate in electronic commerce. The other bill that we are discussing presently, the Judgement Enforcement Act, provides for e-commerce in the operation of our court system. That is one of the initiatives of this government. I realize when the Member for Signal Hill was speaking about that, he brought up some concerns about the Registry. I want to assure him that we are dealing with the backup that occurred in the Registry, particularly over this summer, particularly as a result of so much economic activity in the Province. It was hard to plan for that, and we had some other problems.

We also had problems with some of the electronic machinery over there, and the department is in the process of providing new machinery for the operation of the Registry and we are hoping to improve that significantly in the very near future.

Just a few month ago, I announced that the people in the Province would be able to renew their motor vehicle registration over the Internet. That was a significant e-commerce initiative of our government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. NOEL: Several weeks ago Minister Tobin, who is, along with myself, co-chair of the consumer ministers of the country -

AN HON. MEMBER: That's not the same fellow who was here as Premier, is it?

MR. NOEL: Yes, the same, our old friend.

We launched the Canadian Consumer Information Gateway. You have some pamphlets here that members may be interested in looking at. It is a federal-provincial resource for people to use, for consumers and businesses to use, to ensure they are able to get the kind of information they need to do business properly over the Internet.

We are doing what we can in many different ways to facilitate the use of the internet by our people, and there will certainly have to be a lot more done in order to ensure that the Internet is secure and privacy is secured.

I agree with the Member for Signal Hill that a lot of people have concerns and people are not going to rush down to their computer and do a lot more business over the Internet immediately upon the passage of this legislation, but it is a move in the right direction, Mr. Speaker, and I encourage members to give us their views as we go through the debate on this. If there are ways to improve the bill, we will be happy to make amendments, if we are convinced that they are appropriate and if they serve a purpose. Hopefully, at the end of the day, we will have a new piece of legislation which increases security and privacy for the people of our Province who use the Internet.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I move second reading.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to ask leave of the House at this point in time to table the Public Accounts for the Province, which I inadvertently omitted during the tabling section.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the minister have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As Minister of Finance, I have the honour of tabling the Public Accounts of the Province for the financial year ended 31 March 2001, as required by the Financial Administration Act.

Thank you.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Facilitate Electronic Commerce By Removing Barriers To The Use Of Electronic Communication," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 35)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, Order 30, second reading of Bill 57.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Historic Resources Act." (Bill 57)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You are very kind.

It is a pleasure today to move second reading of the amendments to our Historic Resources Act, Mr. Speaker. It will clarify and expand the roles and responsibilities of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador and also protect the fossil resources of the Province.

The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador was established in 1984 to preserve the heritage of the Province. The foundation designates buildings of heritage value and offers grants to the property owners for the restoration of buildings. The amendments will rectify a number of issues, making the foundation's relationship to government more defined under the Historic Resources Act.

The amendments pertaining to the Heritage Foundation will ensure the preservation of the heritage buildings in this Province. These amendments will also allow the Heritage Foundation to establish commemorating heritage districts where a number of heritage buildings may be located. These amendments will continue to give the Heritage Foundation the authority to determine which buildings merit designation and which of these deserve a preservation grant.

The Heritage Foundation will work co-operatively with municipalities in order to protect their built heritage resources, and these partnerships are very beneficial in helping to secure our cultural heritage. We have seen many examples of that around the Province.

An important and positive aspect to these amendments is that the Heritage Foundation will be able to use its Heritage Foundation Fund to accept donations from the corporate sector. The foundation will not be competing with not-for-profit organizations for much-needed private help. Instead, this fund provides an avenue for donors who wish to contribute to the preservation of their built heritage to do so. These donations will complement government's continuing support for the foundation, which is very substantial. The most suitable way for government to give this ability to the Heritage Foundation is to make it an agent of the Crown. Newfoundland and Labrador is following in the footsteps of other provinces in doing this. At least seven other provinces have already established heritage foundations as Crown agencies.

The second part of this legislation is protecting the Province's fossil resources. It shows our government's commitment to preserving the natural heritage of our Province. Fossils are one of the most important parts of our heritage. The Office of the Legislative Council, in consultation with our department, have outlined amendments to the act necessary to make it illegal to remove fossils found at sites within the Province.

The Department of Mines and Energy has been consulted extensively on these amendments. Mr. Speaker, these fossils should be accessible to all of us, but should also be protected. This new amendment will make it illegal to remove fossils found at sites around the Province. Government is ensuring that we will benefit from these resources in the proper and appropriate way.

The amendments to protect the Province's fossil resources are a result of public consultations, Mr. Speaker. That is the second part of our amendment that we putting forward. Again, the Department of Mines and Energy have been consulted extensively on this. We look forward to seeing second reading of this piece of legislation.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today to make a few comments on Bill 57. It is a bill that we do not have any great problem with here on this side of the House. I say to the minister that we will not be bringing forward any further amendments to this bill. In fact, it is a good bill.

Having grown up in an area and now representing an area where heritage has played and is continuing to play a great part in the promotion of tourism, I think of Port Union right now, that is considered an historic district. The reason it is designated as an historic district has all to do with the Coaker story. It is a story almost like no other. Port Union being a union town, I always say to the people there when I drive through certain areas of this particular town that I almost get goosebumps, I almost get goose pimples on my arms because it is so different from what you would expect to see in a small rural town. They have built on the Coaker story there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: There has been some money brought forward, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. It is not the point of Tobin putting money there; it is the point of people's money being spent wisely to promote something that is going to be of great benefit not only to Port Union and the Bonavista Peninsula but to the whole Province.

As that story unfolds, I say to you, Mr. Speaker, I have a feeling that you are going to see other people getting involved. It is a union built town. You are probably going to see the unions in the world want to be part of the story as it unfolds. Up until now there has been a struggle, there has been a fight, if you would, in order to get somebody to recognize the importance of the union story of Port Union. I have always said that once somebody makes a commitment to spend some money there, to show that we are serious about this, then you will see other people who want to be part of that story as it unfolds. This piece of legislation certainly allows some of that to happen.

Mr. Speaker, I can think of Bonavista, building on their historic buildings, when you look at what they are doing down there, you look at the townscape plan, you look at the money that is being spent there this year in refurbishing and upgrading the older structures in the Town of Bonavista. I continue to say, every time I chat to a gentleman by the name of Gordon Bradley, Senator Bradley's son, I always say: God Bless Gordon Bradley. The reason for that is, he has been a great believer and a great champion of trying to keep the older buildings and the heritage of Bonavista, because he knew somewhere down the line there would be something, it would be a story that could be built on that would probably be able to save the town, with the downturn in the fishery, as it once was.

I always talk about my own lack of foresight when I was the mayor of a community that I represented. My thoughts were, at that particular time, that if nobody lives there, if nobody is occupying it, tear it down, get rid of it, it is an eyesore. That is certainly not the approach that should be taken. That was my thought, and I admit that.

Gordon Bradley stepped up to the plate and said that we are going to build on our heritage and we are going to protect our heritage and we are going to put some of those buildings back the way they were. When you go to Bonavista today and look at some of the things that are happening, and they are unfolding now in Port Union, we are trying to catch up, I say to the minister, because we did not need tourism. Up until 1992, tourists in Bonavista and Port Union meant a strange licence plate driving through the town that got in the way when somebody was going home for dinner. It was people who got in the way when people were going home to dinner because they were in a rush to get back to the plant when the whistle blew. Then, all of a sudden, things changed. Now we have to reach out and try to grasp what we can in order to create economic activity, and we are building on the story and we are trying to catch up with a little place in Trinity North known as Trinity.

If anybody wants to see the way history can unfold and what can be done in relating a story, then I suggest that you come to the Bonavista Peninsula, go to places like Bonavista, Port Union and Trinity and King's Cove, and see the history that has been maintained and has been put forward in those towns.

Mr. Speaker, I am a little bit disturbed with what happened when the minister decided to take the approach he did on The Rooms here in St. John's. That was a situation where there was another story that I think could have been told separately from what you are doing. I think it was a story that could have been put forward in a different way, so I am a little disappointed that the minister took the approach that he took there because that should have unfolded in a completely different way.

If there is one place that we can all relate to here in this Province that catches the eye of tourists, and a history that we can build on, a place where people can go close to this City of St. John's, the capital city, and walk there on a daily basis if they want to when they visit here and go to some of the other places in St. John's, what is happening there today is nothing short of criminal. I think of Quidi Vidi. I think of what is happening in Quidi Vidi, Mr. Speaker, when you see -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: The minister is well aware of this; the minister has talked to people there. When you see people living in that tiny village having to pick up the gauntlet themselves, they get no support from this government in order to stop the development that is on the go there to maintain a story, to maintain a history and to promote Newfoundland - not only Quidi Vidi but to promote this Province as we know it - it is shameful. It is shameful, I say to the minister, that you would back away from it and say that it does not concern me, because it concerns each and every one of us.

MR. REID: What?

MR. FITZGERALD: What is happening in Quidi Vidi, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, what is happening out there with allowing development to take place by allowing condominiums to be built pretty well right on the waterfront, in that historic village that we should be promoting. There have probably been more pictures taken of Quidi Vidi than any other little community in this Province today.

We should have learned. There is a great lesson to be learned here, and I commend the people to say that even though we do not have the support of the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, even though the government of the day is not going to step up and support us, that we are not going to allow this to happen. I support them for that because they have every right.

Mr. Speaker, this is something that concerns me when we talk about our historic resources. This is one thing that concerns me when we put forward a piece of legislation, and it makes me wonder how serious we are when we talk about promoting tourism, promoting our historic resources, protecting our historic resources, and to allow such development to take place that robs us of our very history.

Right here, next to the capital city, the City of St. John's, only a couple of minutes walk outside the city, you can almost go into an environment that is completely separate; you are around the bay. When you go to Quidi-Vidi, I say to you, Mr. Speaker, you are around the bay and you see Newfoundland. It is completely different from what it is in just a minute's walk away.

So, I say to you minister, do not shy away from the fact of what is happening out there. Do not back off and say, I can do nothing with it, because you can. You can do something about it, you can step up to the plate and be responsible and say, we are not going to allow this to happen. This is a gem in the tourism industry of this Province. This is what our heritage is all about. You can step up to the plate and not allow that development to take place. In fact, you should be building on it, and you should be promoting it. It should be a little village that is on everything that we are all about when we promote tourism in this Province. So, Mr. Speaker, that is one thing that certainly concerns me.

There are a lot of heritage structures around the Province today that are accessing heritage funding. There is not a lot of funding there, I say to the minister. I do not know exactly what it is, but I know it is nowhere near the amount of funding that it takes to upgrade and put some of those historic buildings back to the way that they were, and the way that they were built. In fact, I will tell you my interest in heritage structures is that I have gone out myself and I have taken some pictures. One of the pictures will be going into everybody's homes in my district as a Christmas card, with a heritage structure in Brooklyn, Bonavista Bay, the Archibald Bennett House. It was only a couple of days ago that I visited the home, went in and the people who own it now took me through it. It is certainly a very picturesque, eye-catching structure in a little community of Brooklyn. Many people come there and go up in the garden and take pictures because of the architectural style of this particular building. They are to be commended for bringing it back and restoring it to its original self.

So, Mr. Speaker, as I said, it is a good bill. We do not have any problem with it, but I say to the minister, maybe he can be mindful of a few of the things that I raised here today, especially what is happening in Quidi Vidi Village. Maybe he might want to take a second look at his approach to that particular little village and the decision he has made to kind of shy away from taking part and stopping what is happening there today, and continue to have it as a place where we can all go and where we can all look at the way a little community should be and the way a little village should be, and we should all take great pride in that.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi-Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak on the legislation, Bill 57, An Act To Amend The Historic Resources Act. I want to say, first of all, that I do support the changes being brought forward to the legislation by the minister today. We have some substantial improvement to the Historic Resources Act to include fossils and fossil record as part of the historic and culture resources of the Province, and that is a very positive thing. There are also additional positive aspects allowing for the designation of historic districts. That is a very important addition to the act.

The act does not go far enough, I say to the minister and to the Members of the House. We have circumstances in this Province where the minister and the government should be protecting historic resources and are not protecting them. The example that was just given is one that still needs to be protected. It hasn't yet been totally destroyed, I say to the minister and to the government opposite. That is the historic district, the historic area and the historic site of Quidi Vidi Village. There is a foundation that has been established, the Quidi-Vidi Village Foundation, that has been working very hard to try to save the village and its historic presence, its historic view, its historic site and its historic nature from an inappropriate type of development that the City of St. John's appears to be willing to ignore. Not only the village, but that particular individual specific site is the second most visited area, the second most visited tourism site in the St. John's capital region. The first one is Signal Hill. That is a national park. The first one is a national park protected by the National Parks Act, financed and supported by the people of Canada, because it is of national significance. That is the first one, with Marconi and the history of Marconi, with the history of the battles in the various wars that Newfoundland was the site of in the Eighteenth Century.

Of equal importance, from a historical prospective and from a cultural prospective, is the village of Quidi Vidi, which, in addition to being a historic fishing village, is also the site of at least two or three important battles that took place in that area. We know that the Province has done something to recognize that by the supporting and refurbishment of a military facility in the village of Quidi Vidi in my district.

The real issue here is whether or not this government wants to save that. There are a couple of ways they can do it. They can do it under section 17 of the legislation, which allows government to designate - the minister may declare a site, area, parcel of land, building, monument or other structure that is considered to be of historical or archaeological certificate as a registered historic site. That is what the minister is allowed to do. The minister is able to do that and designate that as a provincial registered historic site, and they could also declare a provincial historic site, which would then prevent the development from taking place.

The problem with section 16 of the existing legislation is, it has to be a site that is owned by the Province. In other words, they have to expropriate that land. I think that the legislation should go further, and that we should not just be allowed to protect, as a people, for all the people of the Province, sites or monuments or buildings that we must expropriate, but we must go further than that and ensure that sites can be protected even if they are not necessarily owned by the Province. That may be considered to be a burden on some people.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen situations where we had the Belvedere Orphanage building in St. John's, the third oldest building in the Province, slated for demolition destruction because the person who owned it could not find an economic use for it at a particular time.

We have to go further than we have gone in protecting historic sites and historic resources because once they are gone, they are gone forever.

We cannot turn our back on the people of Quidi Vidi. People have gone out of their way for the last three and four months to protest, to ensure that everybody in the Province knew about the issue, and they do. There are 200 and 300 signatures a day; people going to the village to sign the petitions. They are collecting them from people from all over the Province, visitors to the Province.

When the September 11 incident occurred in New York and people who were here for several days, people went down to Quidi Vidi village and were shocked that this would be allowed to be destroyed by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The minister mentions the mayor. The mayor does not seem to be interested in protecting that, but that should not be the answer. The mayor should not be allowed to see it destroyed. We do not have to respect what the mayor does on any individual decision, Mr. Speaker, because there are overriding provincial concerns here having to do with the whole people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Just because a particular municipal council does not wish to protect a particular site does not mean that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador do not deserve to have that site protected for all of us.

I say to the minister, this is not over yet. These people are not prepared to give up hope. In fact, there is a benefit being held on Sunday to raise money to support the cause. There has to be some solution for this particular problem, Mr. Speaker. I recognize that the government has not acted yet. I say yet because I still expect the government will act to try and save this from destruction, save this property, save this historic resource and historic site. If it means that we have to amend this legislation even further to allow the minister to do that without having to spend enormous amounts of government money, then I think we should consider doing that as well.

There are some interests that need to be protected in respect to the Quidi Vidi Village site. It may be that the original owners need to be protected and compensated. Mr. Speaker, we do not need to look at the full expectation of somebody who thought they were going to build a project there and have $600,000 or $700,000 houses and make an enormous profit when, in fact, that is not even in the cards, not even a likelihood, not even a possibility, I don't think, at this particular time.

Mr. Speaker, it is something that is an ongoing situation. I hope the minister is able to convince his colleagues, the other members for St. John's; the Member for Virginia Waters, who I know has taken some interest in this particular project - I hope he does not give up on trying to find a solution here. I hope that the other member for St. John's, the Minister of Finance, who represents St. John's Centre, does not give up on this particular problem and tries to find a solution. I expect, and I think we all expect, and the people of Quidi Vidi Village who have worked so hard to preserve this site expect this government to take an interest and find a solution despite the fact -

MR. NOEL: We need to raise some money to buy the land. Would you like to make a contribution?

MR. HARRIS: I say to the minister: If you need to raise some money to buy the land - I do not know how much the land costs. I suspect -

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible) been offered $350,000 for half of it.

MR. HARRIS: As far as I know, the person who wants to sell it for that amount of money does not even own it. I don't know what the minister is talking about here, but that is a different issue. Maybe some of the funds being raised by the people on Sunday could go to making this a proper preserved historic site because there is public interest in it and maybe the public would subscribe to a fund.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible)..

MR. HARRIS: Well, I don't know what the minister is talking about. I believe the person that the minister is talking about does not even own the land. I don't know what the minister is talking about, but I think the government has an obligation here to take action on behalf of the people of the whole Province and to do the right thing with the people of the Quidi Vidi Village who have made a lot of effort from dawn till dusk, day after day after day raised this issue, kept this issue in the public eye, expecting the government to act and were terribly disappointed when the minister issued his statement one Friday afternoon saying that he felt they had done a lot for the village of Quidi Vidi and that they did not feel, at this point, that they were going to do more. I hope they have changed their minds, Mr. Speaker, because this is a very important issue and one that is not going to go away. It is one that signals how much we do care, if we care at all, about the historic resources of this Province.

It is not enough to say that we are going to look after some other things but we are not going to look after this when it is right in your face, staring right in your face in the capital city, that we have a village that, as the previous speaker said, is what appears to be a part of rural Newfoundland in the middle of the city, totally accessible to tourists. One of the reasons people want to wander around our capital city, come to our capital city and go elsewhere in the Province, is because these types of things, these types of resources, these types of historic villages and places are readily accessible to people coming to the Province.

I do say, in saying that we support the legislation, that this is a step forward and I commend the minister for his work in this area, but I want to say that we are all disappointed to date and we expect more from this government and we expect that this situation in Quidi Vidi can be changed by this government. I call on them now, today, on behalf of the people of Quidi Vidi Village who have fought so hard to try and save the village from destruction by this move, to put four condominiums changing the whole nature of the village itself, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps we should consider at third reading an amendment to this legislation that would allow the minister to act to preserve this from destruction while we are trying to find a solution about the acquisition of the property.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. the minister speaks now he will close debate.

The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we welcome the comments from the Opposition parties as to support for the legislation, for the amendments that we are bringing forward. Really, Mr. Speaker, with reference, in this Province right now we have seen over 200 properties designated by the Heritage Foundation in the past decade or so, and more to be done, a lot more properties in rural Newfoundland and Labrador and in the City of St. John's that will be done in the next period of time.

The history of the Province is being very much protected, Mr. Speaker, by this legislation, by the foundation and by interested people in the Province who want to see it preserved. A lot of work is being done in different communities. Organizations are being formed, have been formed. We have seen an increase in the heritage organizations in the Province in the last four or five years. The number of organizations has been increased. There is a lot of interest in protecting our heritage and our history.

With reference to Quidi Vidi, when you look at the issue, Mr. Speaker, we had one municipal council make a decision. We have a municipal election, and we have the second council basically confirming the decision they have made on the zoning of that property. Our provincial Department of Tourism and Historic Resources has twice now been at this site and carried out two different archeological assessments to see whether or not the site itself, at the site itself, there was a further reason to look at further protection. On both those evaluations, it was deemed by the officials that there wasn't a reason on the archeology front. So, we are also protected in Quidi Vidi with the Quidi Vidi Battery historic facility which we promote in a major way. That facility is an excellent facility and does protect a great piece of the St. John's area history, Mr. Speaker.

We are protecting a lot more in the City of St. John's. One of the things that we are going to do is we are going to be meeting with the new council very shortly, with the members of the St. John's region and with the city council, to talk about further ways to protect the history of St. John's and the heritage.

The Heritage Committee that the city has, also made their representations to city council. You know, if we are going to step in and start becoming the municipal authority, which I think is being advocated, it sounds like, on some parts in this House today, there is a question about how far do you go as a provincial government, and how far do you go with stepping on the boundaries of the authority of the municipal councils? Municipal councils are elected and they are given authority for zoning properties, Mr. Speaker. What we are trying to do here also is give them further legislation to help develop and preserve the history and heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador, and we think that this act goes a long way to doing that.

We hear the views of the Opposition and yes, a number of people have been impassioned in their support, for example, for the situation at Quidi Vidi, and many people have empathy and are listening, but we are also acting, too, in a whole variety of ways, Mr. Speaker, all over the Province. We have a tremendous amount of history and culture to protect, and we intend on doing it in this government.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Historic Resources Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 57)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole to consider a number of bills. I can name the bills for His Honour: Bill 23, the Licensed Practical Nurses Act; Bill 24, the Assessment Act; Bill 29, the Motor Carrier Act; Bill 30, the Lands Act; Bill 32, the Dental Act; Bill 36, the Same Sex Amendment Act; Bill 38, the Massage Therapy Act; and Bill 39, the Judgement Enforcement Act.

On motion, that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole, Mr. Speaker left the Chair.

Committee of the Whole

CHAIR (Mercer): Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Chairman, Bill 23.

CHAIR: Bill 23.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Health Care Association Act, Hospitals Act and Licensed Practical Nurses Act." (Bill 23)

On motion, clauses 1 through 3 carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Bill 24, Mr. Chairman, the Assessment Act.

CHAIR: Bill 24, An Act To Amend The Assessment Act.

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Just a couple of minutes on this particular bill. I was absent and at a funeral in La Scie at the time, but certainly we are in support of this. I understand from talking to the minister that the federation, in fact, were the people who wanted this bill to pass forward. Basically, it is for the appeal of the assessment and allows the discretion of the councils to waive that $100 fee. I believe it was the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi who questioned even that particular amount, that $100, that it was a little high and it could be lowered. The point, I guess, is that any council will have at any time the discretion to waive that particular appeal assessment.

We support it and we certainly will not hold it any longer than this.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Assessment Act." (Bill 24)

On motion, clause 1 carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Bill 30, Mr. Chairman, the Lands Act.

CHAIR: Bill 30.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Lands Act." (Bill 30)

On motion, clauses 1 through 4 carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Bill 31, Mr. Chairman, the Economic Advisory Council Act.

CHAIR: Bill 31.

A bill, "An Act To Repeal The Economic Advisory Council Act." (Bill 31)

On motion, clauses 1 and 2 carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Bill 32, Mr. Chairman, the Dental Act.

CHAIR: Bill 32.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Dental Act." (Bill 32)

On motion, clauses 1 through 8 carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Bill 36, Mr. Chairman, the Same Sex Amendment Act.

CHAIR: Bill 36.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Law To Consider Same Sex Cohabiting Partners In the Same Manner As Opposite Sex Cohabiting Partners." (Bill 36)

On motion, clauses 1 through 45 carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Bill 38, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Bill 38.

A bill, "An Act Respecting The Practice Of Massage Therapy." (Bill38)

On motion, clauses 1 through 30 carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Bill 39, Mr. Chairman, the Judgment Enforcement Act.

CHAIR: Bill 39.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Judgement Enforcement Act." (Bill 39)

On motion, clauses 1 through 3 carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Bill 29, Mr. Chairman, the Motor Carrier Act.

CHAIR: Bill 29.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Motor Carrier Act." (Bill 29)

On motion, clauses 1 through 9 carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Chairman, I move the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again, Mr. Speaker returned to the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MR. MERCER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Committee of the Whole House has asked me to report that Bills 23, 24, 30, 31, 32, 36, 38, 39 and 29 are carried without amendment and ask leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole reports that the Committee has considered the matters to it referred and has directed him to report Bills 23, 24, 30, 31, 32, 36, 38, 39 and 29 carried without amendment.

On motion, report received and adopted, Committee ordered to sit again on tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader.

When shall these bills be read a third time?

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to move these bills be read a third time now, all of these bills, and we can stop the clock just for that period of time.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

We agree to stopping the clock. This allows us to conclude what we had set out for today. In a parliamentary sense, it does not mean, for the people watching us, that we are going to stop the clock for everybody, but it does mean that we are about to conclude what we had set out to do today, which is a significant piece of business. We agree to stop the clock until the third readings can be done on the bills that you have just read.

Thank you.

On motion, the following bills read a third time, ordered passed and their title be as on the Order Paper.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Health Care Association Act, Hospitals Act and Licensed Practical Nurses Act." (Bill 23)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Assessment Act." (Bill 24)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Lands Act." (Bill 30)

A bill, "An Act To Repeal The Economic Advisory Council Act." (Bill 31)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Dental Act." (Bill 32)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Law To Consider Same Sex Cohabiting Partners In The Same Manner as Opposite Sex Cohabiting Partners." (Bill 36)

A bill, "An Act Respecting the Practice Of Massage Therapy." (Bill 38)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Judgement Enforcement Act." (Bill 39)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Motor Carrier Act." (Bill 29)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: I thank hon. members, Mr. Speaker, for their cooperation today. I especially thank hon. members opposite for allowing us to proceed with government business today, which ordinarily is Private Members' Day. By their cooperation we have arranged to have Private Members' Day next week.

We thank them and, Mr. Speaker, I move that this House do now adjourn.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Thursday at 1:30 p.m.